Mighty to Save
“Almighty God, whose blessed Son was led by the Spirit to be tempted by Satan: Come quickly to help us who are assaulted by many temptations; and, as you know the weaknesses of each of us, let each one find you mighty to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.” - Book of Common Prayer, The Collect for the First Sunday in Lent
A great desire within every human heart is to be understood. The Collect for this week reflects that human desire. The prayer is that the Lord would not only see us and understand us, but then that he would come to our rescue. In this season of Lent, we need the assurance of the Lord’s understanding as well as his power to save. How can a perfect God understand man’s weakness and inclination to sin? God understands because he hasn’t just watched his people, he has lived among them, and he has experienced the temptations and the weaknesses of humanity.
After his baptism, Jesus was driven into the desert where he endured a period of fasting and intense temptation by Satan. In his humanity, Jesus felt the hunger, the thirst, and the propensity towards fulfilling fleshly desires (by turning stones into loaves of bread). When Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself off the mountain, it was a lure toward human pride. How exciting it would be for the crowds to see angels appearing to catch Jesus as he fell. Jesus could demonstrate to the world who he was and how important he was to the Father. Finally, the last and greatest temptation came when Satan took Jesus up the mountain, showed him all the kingdoms, and then promised Jesus all the glory without the pain. Satan would give Jesus all these kingdoms and all their glory if Jesus would just bow down and worship him. No rejection. No road to Calvary. No cross.
Through each temptation, Jesus quoted Scripture back to Satan and chose to be surrendered to the plan of the Father and the timing of the Father. Jesus would receive perfect nourishment by the angels after the forty days. At the death of Jesus, the Lord worked many physical phenomena – the curtain of the temple was torn in two, the earth shook, rocks were split, tombs were opened, and those who had been dead were raised and appeared to many; then there was a great earthquake (Matthew 27:51-54). Creation displayed the atrocities of that day. After these events and his subsequent death and resurrection, Jesus sat at the right hand of the Father, and when he returns to the earth as the true king, every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Jesus knew temptation, and Jesus knew how to overcome that temptation. Thus, Jesus fully understands our temptations; he understands our weaknesses, and he longs to help us to overcome these temptations. The writer of Hebrews attested to this truth: “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted”
(Hebrews 2:18). Jesus stands ready to help us not to condemn us. Many Christians have been so ashamed of their weaknesses and their sinful actions and thoughts. That shame has led them to hide from the Lord. Hiding leads to further sinning whereas admitting and crying out for help leads to freedom.
How do you approach the Lord with your own sin and weakness? Do you, also, run and hide, or do you walk into the light and allow the Lord to meet you in your weakness, to cover you with his mercy and grace, and then to empower you by his Holy Spirit? Satan is the father of condemnation, whereas God is the Father of compassion, mercy, and grace. Paul wrote about this amazing grace to the church in Corinth: “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong”
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10). These words are meant to be liberating to us. Not only are we understood, but there is hope and help in our time of need.
What if our Lenten discipline this year was to acknowledge our weakness so that we could experience the strength of the Lord? The Lord knows that we are but dust; the Lord understands our weaknesses and our failures; and the Lord chooses to lavish us with his steadfast love and grace. May we truly find him mighty to save this Lenten season! Reflection:
Where do you look in times of temptation and trial? How could you allow the Lord to be strong in your weakness?