Archive for August, 2013

THE TEMPTATION OF CHRIST

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness the devil was offering Him an alternative to the cross. Satan showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and all their glory and said to Him , “All these things will I give to You, if You fall down and worship me.” Jesus was not tempted, He chose the path of suffering – self denial, love – things that Satan could not emulate. The interesting thing is that the kingdoms of the world and all that they contained, namely us, were Satan's to give. Few take to heart that we belong to him whom we obey. Jesus had come to bind the strong man and to plunder his house. The first Adam was offered an apple and he ate, the second Adam was challenged to turn a rock into bread, and He refused saying, “ Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Jesus had come to offer His life a ransom for many. His obedience was to be our salvation, but there was a proviso, we likewise had to be obedient to Him, “You are my friends if you obey Me.”

We were all born under a curse, a sentence of death. Jesus chose to join us under that sentence yet the death He chose was a death to sin, while we are dying because of our sins. Jesus says concerning His death, “No one takes it (My life) away from Me, but I lay it down on my own initiative.”

Jesus was prepared for His ministry through that which He suffered in the wilderness. All the more surely He rejected Satan's overtures of an easy life and chose instead the pain of death and the trial of the cross. He came proclaiming salvation to those who followed and emulated Him. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's shall save it.” Jesus came to pluck us from death through death. It was not an easy path or an easy option. “The path is narrow that leads to life, and full of affliction, and few there are who find it.” The commands He gives to obey are deeper than the Law. “You have heard that the ancients were told …But I say to you…” “…unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and the Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” “Therefore you are to perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” All of these things Jesus said to be obeyed, that we might be conformed to the likeness of His death, that He might raise us up to life in Him.

The motivation for this obedience was not ritual obedience or Holy fear, but love from a pure heart. He came that we might know and love and fear Him from a pure and undefiled heart. Love cannot sin. Love always wants to please the beloved. Love is an ache that gets deeper and deeper in response to love. Because He first loved us we love Him.

Peter, after Christ's resurrection, could not contain the wonder and the joy and the ache of his love for the Lord, by hurling himself into the sea and swimming to shore. When Jesus asked him the third time, “Simon do you love Me?” Peter was grieved, “Lord You know all things You know that I love You.”

The church though would do well to take heed of the other temptation of the devil toward the Lord in the wilderness – he quoted scripture! He said “If You are the Son of God throw yourself down, for it is written 'He will give angels charge concerning You' and 'On their hands they will bear You up lest you strike Your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus said to him “On the other hand it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test'”. Yet the church tests the Lord all day long with its own misuse of scripture!