Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I was listening to the radio the other day, and Joni Eareckson Tada was talking about an interaction she had in a bathroom, of all places, during a speaking event. She heard these women talking about how impressed they were with Joni's grace and how they wanted to be like her.

She told them how it really was - how she was totally dependent on her caregivers and was in pain much of the time. It's a sad irony that despite being paralyzed from the neck down, Joni has a lot of pain.

As I was doing my Bible study today, When the Good News Gets Even Better (it's a look at the Gospels through first century Jewish eyes and I am super excited to be doing it!), the author, Neb Hayden, talked about the temptation of Jesus.

If you've been to church any length of time, I'm sure you've heard the story of Jesus' 40 days in the wilderness. Basically, the story is recorded in Matt. 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; and Luke 4:1-13. Just before this story, Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist and the voice of God is heard saying, "This is my Son in whom I am well-pleased."

Immediately after this, the Bible says that the Spirit impelled Jesus into the wilderness where He fasted for 40 days. In Luke 4:1-2, it says, "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted of the devil. After He ate nothing during those days, and when they had ended, He became hungry."

So according to this and the other accounts, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness - it wasn't an accident. Then, Jesus fasted and during this time, it seems He was tempted but the types of temptation aren't recorded. It wasn't until AFTER the 40 days were up and now Jesus is famished, that the devil comes along for one final assault.

On a side note, I find the timing of this wilderness excursion very interesting. It's immediately after God gives Jesus a benediction of sorts. This is who Jesus is and this is how I feel about Him. In the first two temptations, Satan says to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God" - in other words, calling Jesus's identity into question.

This quote from the Bible study really stood out to me, "If we do not understand who we are from God's perspective, we are up for grabs when temptation comes calling." Another reminder for me to know who I am in Christ.

Anyway, there are three temptations Satan throws at Jesus: turning stones to bread, casting Himself down from the top of the temple so the angels could save Him, and giving Jesus rule over the world.

When you look at the first temptation, it seems like what is the big deal? Jesus has the power to turn the stones into bread and the fast is over. Why is this a sin?

What the author pointed out, I had never considered before (and I've heard this Bible story since I was very young). Many different times, Jesus talks about He and His Father being one. Basically, Jesus lived by the life of Another - namely God. Throughout the Gospels, Jesus models total dependence on God the Father.

The actual temptation was Satan was hoping to get Jesus to turn the stones into bread through His own strength rather than remaining in total dependence of God.

As I thought about this, Joni Eareckson Tada came to mind. She is completely helpless. Every day, every moment, she is utterly dependent on those around her. Without them, she would die. I can't imagine feeling that helpless all the time. I can't imagine how hard that would be - can you?

But that is how God wants us to depend on Him.

In the second temptation, Satan basically asks Jesus to do a swan dive off the temple so that the angels would come do a dramatic rescue. Then everyone would KNOW who Jesus was - no question about it.

This appealed to pride. You have to wonder about what kind of taunts, teasing and doubts Jesus was presented with throughout His life, particularly in His hometown. He would have been known as the illegitimate son of Mary - conceived before she was married. Of course, I'm sure the whole "It was an immaculate conception" would have made the rounds of the rumor mill, and I'm sure there were people who laughed and scoffed, speculating on who the father was really.

How tempting would it be to prove once and for all, that He really WAS the Son of God? How often do I want to defend or justify myself - to prove whatever to whoever? It's hard to be silent and let God fight for you - at least it is for me. But again - that total dependence on God comes into play.

The final temptation was Satan offering Jesus the kingdoms of the world. This one has never made a whole lot of sense to me. I mean, Jesus is God - how tempting was it to offer Him something He had created?

The thing is, Satan was tempting Jesus with ownership without the payment of the cross. Numerous times, the Bible tells us that the devil is the ruler of this world - temporary as that may be. This doesn't mean that God is weak or submissive to satan - only that God doesn't force anyone to follow Him,and since Satan has not met his ultimate fate of being thrown into the lake of fire, he is running around, trying to drag as many people with him as possible.

Ultimately, Jesus had to have faith in His identity and role as the Son of God. I know - He's God so this probably wasn't nearly as hard as it is for you and me. However, real biblical faith relies not on information but on truth.

In Romans 10:17, it says, "So faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word (or revelation) of God."

God's Word revealed to us produces faith in Him, and He is solid and trustworthy of that faith. After all, faith isn't very helpful if it is in something that isn't true. I don't care how much faith you have in the thin ice over the pond, if it can't hold your weight, you are going to be very cold and wet. However, in order to know the truth, we have to spend time in God's word. It doesn't come by osmosis or wishful thinking.

So, what has God revealed to you today through His Word?
~ Blessings, Bronte

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