GOD’S DUSTMAN TACKLES THE REAL DIRT
4 1-3 Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread.”
4 Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
5-6 For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.”
7 Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
8-9 For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
10 Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
11 The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.
It’s good to know that Jesus was tempted –
And that he used his knowledge of scripture to overcome temptation.
But it was more than just facing temptations as we do that was at stake here.
Jesus came to change the world, to overturn the world order and bring in God’s Kingdom – a Kingdom where love rules, love for God and for your neighbour.
Jesus had to take on his enemy one to one,
if everyone was to be set free from his power, and God’s Kingdom was to take root.
The enemy is clever –
each temptation was the temptation to take something good in itself
and to use it for something not so good.
Bread in itself is good – the staff of life!
And in his ministry Jesus did miraculously provide enough bread for a hungry crowd.
He is tempted here to provide bread for himself, to prove that he is “the Son of God”. He stands against it – he does not need to prove what God has said.
Then the enemy tells him to fling himself off the highest point of the temple –
surely God will send angels to save him! But Jesus refuses to use God’s power as magic.
Then he is tempted to do a deal with the enemy which would allow him to rule his world. He rejects this temptation.
These temptations come at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel.
In the rest of the gospel, Matthew describes the path Jesus took,
to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth.
Jesus overcame the temptations of the enemy, and so moved into his ministry,
tested and ready to fulfil his calling.
What does that say to us?
Can you think of times when you have been tempted
to do the right things in the wrong way
or to do the right things for the wrong reasons?
Do we have the scripture filled knowledge and courage to reject these temptations?
It matters – we too are part of God’s plan to bring his Kingdom here on earth.
O God, we long for your Kingdom to be here on earth-
No more violence and war,
No more hatred and injustice,
No more illness, suffering or sorrow.
The seed is sown, the Kingdom is growing, the harvest will come.
We offer you our love, our faith and our service,
In Christ’s name, Amen