Thursday, March 26, 2009

Second Response

Matthew 4:5-7, “Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying 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, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

The second response that we see in the temptation of Christ is an extension of the first. Note how Satan says, ‘if you are the Son of God’. Slightly mocking, isn’t it? He is still questioning the identity of Christ. Do you hear that voice sometimes, “If you were more faithful”, “If you were a better mother”, or “If you were like her”? Questioning our identity is literally the devil’s playground. Satan is trying everything to take the Sonship away from Christ. He is crafty but he knows the eternal ramifications of what is happening. Jesus is being prepared.

Throwing yourself down off of the temple referred to the expectation of the coming of the Messiah. It was thought that He would appear suddenly over the temple, making a huge stink of His presence. Satan sounds like a taunting bully, trying to get the other kids to jump off the roof. He was, in essence, saying, “Give the people what they want. You say you are the Messiah, right? Prove it by being what they expect.” Satan does not stop there, though; he quotes scripture to the living Word…the audacity. That is so interesting, isn’t it? Even the father of lies knows scripture and is aware of its power. To be unarmed, without the word of God, makes us sitting targets.

Satan was quoting Psalm 91: 11, 12, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” Tu Chez, Satan, but let’s look at the difference in what the two say… just one phrase, “to guard you in all your ways”. Satan left out an interesting part, didn’t he? Some say that this would not make any difference in the meaning. Some say that Satan was downplaying the consequence of not completing the temptation obediently. Would all of Christ’s ways be guarded if He was disobedient? This can be your theological thought for the day. There is no right answer, so go wild.

Going back to Satan’s quotation of scripture…our temptations do not come in the form of, choice = consequence. If this was the case, Satan would lose a lot of customers. He does not say, “if you choose to speak about your friend behind her back (choice) = you will lose this friendship (consequence)”; or “if you jump off of this building = you will be disobedient to God and all of eternity will be affected”. Don’t we wish that it happened like that? So, here the devil is just saying to go ahead and jump because the angels have got it under control; in fact, not even a little piggy toe will be hurt. What a guy. We encounter this everyday. When we are tempted, the important part gets left out.

And then Jesus speaks, our Savior boldly and defiantly says, “NO”. Can’t you just feel that moment? He doesn’t just say no. He says, “Look here, bucko, don’t put God on your level…he won’t play (TJK paraphrase).” Jesus’ response is Deuteronomy 6:16, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.” Again, He quotes scripture to the father of lies. He never adds a single word of His own. What more is there to say? There is supernatural power in speaking the word of God. There is power in memorizing it, and talking about it. Satan will retreat in the face of scripture. That alone is a reason to use it. It is our sword. We cannot outwit or outrun Satan. Scripture is the weapon that Christ used; it is the weapon that I will use.

Let me ask another question. Are we testing God? Are we dragging Him to the place of spiritual ultimatum? Are we asking Him to perform like a pet for us? Are we manipulating Him, maybe leaving out a few details to make ourselves look more appealing? I don’t know how to be delicate, obviously, but let me assure you…we are not. We might think that we have that power, but God does not play with Satan and He does not play with us. Let God be God. Let Jesus follow through victoriously. He resisted more temptation than we can fathom, so that He could sit in this moment with us.

Lord, you have given us such an amazing example. Write your word on our heart so that we can stand strong in the face of the enemy. Examine our hearts and show us the places that we do not understand who you really are. Change us to let you reign victoriously in our hearts.

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