Tuesday, April 29, 2008
TEMPTED IN OUR OWN WILDERNESS
We're probably all pretty familiar with the story of Jesus being alone in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, and then Satan's visit to him. It's always been easy for me to look at that story as a lesson in not giving in to temptation. We teach is to our kids -- when Jesus was tempted, He didn't budge and inch. We need to use Him as a model. That's all true. However, I do not know if I will have anything here to share with you that will be new to you but recently I was looking at this story as a story of encouragement for difficult or trying times. My thoughts below will be in parentheses. This is the NLT version.

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. (I get hungry after four hours; it is hard to imagine just how discourage and worn and broken down Jesus would have had to have been at this point.)

3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Satan tempted Jesus with immediate satisfaction. Yes, times were difficult for Jesus so Satan offered him the easy, immediate answer ... turn these stones into bread.)

4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,

‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Jesus gave the honorable response, stating that He was in this for the long term, not to give up and seek immediate satisfaction.)

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,

‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” (Satan was in essence saying "Prove to me that what you're following here is really true." He was trying to add to Jesus' discouragement. When we ourselves are down or discouraged, it seems sometimes like everything plays to that discouragement, potentially driving us deeper.)

7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” (Jesus responded that He didn't have to prove anything. He knew ultimately what was written and that His father loved Him and was ultimately always there to protect Him.)

8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” (Satan offered Jesus a shortcut to His life's ultimate calling. Whether Satan was offering control over this world or if it was all deception makes no difference. The temptation was that Jesus could avoid His life story that had been prophesied, which He was all too familiar with at this point. He could avoid that and still become the ultimate power in this world.)

10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,

‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’” (Jesus knew that the glory He'd been promised could only come to Him one way -- via His Father and the promises that had been made to Him. If He strayed from the path god had planned for Him, he risked losing everything for Himself and for all who would come after Him.)

11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

For me, viewed through the lens I have outlined above, the story of Jesus' temptation is a great encouragement, a reminder that, even though we may not entirely see it or understand it, God has a greater plan for us. He loves us and wants to be with us, but we must seek and follow His guiding hand to the plan He has provided for us. That plan may include times and lessons that are not easy. Times and lessons that will be fraught with temptation for easy ways out and for shortcuts but we must ultimately press onward in pursuit of the Father.

  posted at 5:40 AM  
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