Father E greatly blessed Restoration by participating in our services Sunday. Those of us who attended the 5:00 PM service received his preaching on Matthew 4.
Matthew 3 tells the story of Christ’s baptism, his anointing by God and the start of his ministry. Immediately after after the story of baptism, Jesus sets out into the desert where he is tempted for 40 days. The Christ rejects the temptations in turn, first the turning of the rock into bread to feed himself and break his fast, then the jumping from the temple to be saved by Angels, glorifying himself and revealing himself as the Son of God. Lastly, Jesus rejects the Devil’s offer to rule all the kingdoms of the earth by forsaking God.
In one hand Fr. E gave us Matthew 4, in the other he offered Romans 5, the epistle reading which climaxes with versus 18 and 19: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life of all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience that many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Paul is reminding the reader: it is Adam’s sin which condemned us all, Adam’s disobedience which made us sinners. But it is Christ’s act of righteousness on the cross, that justifies us and gives us life. It is Christ’s obedience to death, that makes us righteous. Father E tied Paul’s reference to Christ’s obedience to the moment in Gethsemane where Jesus prays “Not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39). Here confronted with his death, he submits to God completely. In one garden, by one man, we were all condemned. In another garden, the One Man chose obedience, righteousness that began a walk to a cross, endured death, and ushered in life everlasting.
We can see the Christ as he does throughout the testament and even now, remaking, re-creating our world. Christ in the desert was the man that the world needed when the snake reared his head in Genesis. God breathed life into Adam; God anointed Jesus. Both are tempted. Jesus starts the re-creation of the world by facing the same evil as Adam and saying “No”. It was a long journey from that baptism to the cross, but both at the beginning and the end Christ is choosing obedience.
Fr. E emphasized in his conclusion, how grateful we are that Christ is our “suffering servant”. Instead of choosing himself, he chose God, so that we would know who God is and who we are in him – his children, redeemed by his Son. We can have hope for transformation into his likeness, just as the Christ transformed the story about God and Man by walking into the desert and choosing to be the New Adam.
On a more personal note, I couldn’t help but think, listening to Fr. E speak, of the deserts and devils which our friends in West Asia, Cambodia, Bolivia, and maybe (maybe especially) in Arlington, encounter after choosing to follow Christ. I hope that even if you can’t join me in person, that you would pray for those who are new to the Body of Christ that in their desert, amid temptations, that they would know they are not alone and that they would choose to say “No” just like Jesus.
Join me in praying to and worshiping our suffering servant.
- · In Christ we have hope for transformation; how can we live out that hope in our outreach? For what transformation should we pray?
- · What does it mean to be obedient like the Christ, especially in the context of our outreach?
- · What does it mean that those who persecute our friends suffer the consequences of Adam’s choice as we do? How should that truth shape our prayer about West Asia and the Silk Road?
- · How should who we are in Him, “his children, redeemed by his Son”, shape our relationships and engagement with our partners?
I will be hosting prayer for West Asia and the Silk Road on Monday, February 2 at 7:30. Come as you are, physically, mentally, or emotionally; all are welcome. 7108 Westmoreland Road, Falls Church, Virginia
~Eric Lessels, firstname.lastname@example.org