Last week, in The Wilderness Experience, Part 3, we discovered that we must be prepared to identify every sin of intemperance and hit it over the head with the Truth that it is God who can fulfill our desires and dreams. Not people, actions, or things. Today’s devotional takes a closer look at the second temptation recorded by Matthew:
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”‘ Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”‘” (Matt. 4:5-7)
After failing at his first attempt, the devil’s tactics change. If Jesus is so adamant about relying on God, why not tempt Him to do just that? Why not remind Him, using scripture, of what God has promised, and then prove that God is true to His Word?
There are two interesting questions here: First of all, isn’t it interesting that the devil uses scripture to tempt Jesus?
We tend to think the devil is ignorant. Beware! His problem isn’t lack of knowledge of the Holy Scripture! Beware! The devil knows and understands spiritual things far better than any of us, and as a result, he is able to twist and distort them in logical-looking ways! Don’t fall into His traps!
The second interesting point is this: Would it have been so wrong for Jesus to have used this situation to prove beyond a doubt that God is, indeed, true to His Word?
Friends, the real focus of this temptation was aimed at Jesus’ faith in God. Jumping from the pinnacle of the temple would have given us the message that evidence of God’s power is lacking, and that Jesus wasn’t sure God was true to His Word. It would have left us with the message that faith isn’t enough!
But Jesus WAS sure that God was true to His Word. He didn’t need to purposefully put himself into a situation where God’s miraculous power would be needed. He already knew what God’s response would be! He already knew the miracle worker! And by resisting, He left us with a pointed example: If you know the miracle worker, you don’t need outright miracles to prove to yourself that God is God!
Throughout His entire ministry, Jesus never ceased to do miracles. The blind saw, the lame walked, the deaf heard, the dumb spoke, the dead were even raised back to life. God was constantly at work in Jesus’ life, and all the people had to do was open their eyes to the works of God through Jesus.
When John the Baptist was in prison, he also began to doubt that Jesus was God’s Son. He sent his disciples to ask Jesus pointedly if He was the Christ. Jesus’ response? “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.” (Matt 11:4-6 NIV)
Despite His abundant miracles however, the Pharisees never ceased to doubt that Jesus was God’s Son: “The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven.” (Mark 8:11 NIV). Jesus’ response? “He sighed deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.'” (Mark 8:11-13 NIV) If the Pharisees had really known God, they would have recognized His hand on Jesus’ life. But they didn’t trust God, and they asked for a sign.
Friends, things are no different for us today. There is no lack of miracles in our lives. Every minute of everyday is filled with God’s blessings, protection, and power. All we need to do to have all the proof we need that God does what He says He does can be found by meditating on scripture and by keeping our eyes and our hearts open to what He is doing in the world around us. We must simply WATCH!
Remember, God wants us to trust Him. He wants us to believe because of His past, flawless record! When we are tempted to doubt God’s power in any aspect of the world today, we need to remember Jesus’ response: “Don’t put the Lord Your God to the test!” In so saying, Jesus admonishes us to learn to detect God’s hand in our lives and in the lives of those around us. If we do, then outward signs, requested with the sole purpose of proving God’s power to ourselves, will be completely unnecessary.
Enough to ponder, but do ponder this: In this, his second major temptation, Jesus leaves us with the ultimate example in trust. We need to know the miracle worker, and we need to be watching where He is at work around us everyday. When we do, then outward signs become unnecessary!
Please join us next Saturday for a closer look at the last temptation: I will give this to You if You bow down and worship me!
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Mother of two teens, Speech-Language Pathologist, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, www.scripturalnuggets.org , with Answers2Prayer Ministries, www.Answers2Prayer.org
(To access the entire “The Wilderness Experience” mini-series, please click here.)