Saturday, March 15, 2014

Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV)

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written,

‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan!  For it is written,

‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

The Bible is quite clear:  Satan is both real and craftier than all the other creatures.  We do poorly to forget either truth.  Still, it must irk Satan no end to think that God co-opts him.  Yet God does that:  he uses Satan to strengthen God’s children!  Note that it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  That is, God the Holy Spirit led Jesus the Son of God into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil!  God uses Satan!  He uses Satan’s very rebelliousness to defeat him!  Never forget that!

So—be wary.  If God tested Jesus, he will test you too.  Jesus instructs us that we are not above our teacher; rather, when fully trained, we will be like him (Luke 6:40).  In Lent, we spend 40 days preparing to receive the radical forgiveness gained by Jesus Christ for all who repent, for all who turn to him.  Where has God allowed Satan to test you?  And how have you fared with those tests?

As for me, I often fail.  Do you know why?  It is because I face those tests without using something Jesus used—Scripture!  Jesus interpreted Satan’s tests through the lens of Scripture.  Jesus saw clearly that Satan sought to tempt him just as he had tempted Adam and Eve.  But Jesus had something Adam and Eve did not have—Scripture.   Old Testament Scripture, too!

You see, Scripture not only reveals God—it also protects its readers.  After all, it is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17); it cuts down the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers of this present darkness we call life.

Lord, protect us in this Lent with the power of your Word as we turn from the world’s darkness to you.

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