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Jesus’ baptism inaugurated…

October 15, 2007

His public ministry. However, there is a lag between the time of His baptism and His actual beginning to preach, teach and heal. Looking at the Gospels together presents the idea of about a one year lag.

The apostle Matthew though, launches right into the next significant point of Jesus’ presentation as King and His kingdom come–the temptation of Jesus by the tempter. The devil’s entire intent in his temptation of Jesus is to see Him fail at God’s purpose. Each of his temptations is focused with that aim in mind.

At Jesus’ baptism God the Father declares that Jesus is His beloved Son, whom He loves, and with whom He is well pleased. This was a declaration that Satan was determined to oppose. Jesus is then led by the Spirit into the desert where He fasts for 40 days and nights. The gospel according to Luke suggests that Satan tempts Jesus throughout the 40 days, presenting like Matthew, these last three temptations as the climax.

The tempter’s attack is straight at the heart of what has just been declared by God. Namely that Jesus is the Son of God. (Emphasis mine)

If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.

Consider the facts here. Jesus is understandably hungry. He’s in the desert. He knows He is the Son of God. He knows that He can turn the stones into bread. The temptation is clear: if God really is Your Father, then why is He allowing You to struggle through this hunger? Why not use Your power to provide for Yourself what You clearly need? Who knows how long it might take God to get around to meeting Your physical need?

Jesus also goes straight to the heart in His reply.

It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Jesus is stating that every word of Scripture is profitable, “it is written”. He states that man’s needs are not met in the mere physicality of our understanding, “not…on bread alone”. He refocuses the debate to be truly about how you approach the words of God, “on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Jesus declares that He will indeed quite thoroughly trust God’s purpose in ordaining that not only He be hungry for this time, but also that He be tested in this way. He declares that God’s character is sufficiently sustaining to His faith and His life to trust in every word written, having issued from God.

This temptation becomes my own in repetitious fashion when I find myself in a tight spot of discomfort–physical, emotional, or mental. I know that God’s Spirit has testified to mine that I am His child (Rom 8:16). I even believe that God has a purpose in my discomfort. But the temptation to wriggle out from under the oppressive discomfort turns my thoughts to how in my own power can I alleviate my feelings? Aren’t I entitled as a child of God to have peace in my life? From that beginning flashpoint of giving supremacy to my feelings, a slow burn can turn into a raging fire of doubt about the character of God and the purposes of God, resulting in frustration about every event that doesn’t immediately alleviate my discomfort.

Only the truths of Scripture are firm enough to hold me in these times, to remember that It Is Written, to recall how God has worked in the lives of other believers, to read deeply of His attributes as He has described Himself in the pages of His Word. It cannot be a band aid application of flipping through the Psalms until I see a word or two that matches or seems to match. The saturation of His Word in my life must be thorough.

How well do I know what is written so that I would believe fully in God’s character, God’s purpose, and God’s care for me during a time of testing? How well do you?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2007 10:47 pm

    There’s a lot here, Elle. I’m going to read again in the morning to make sure I’ve absorbed it all.

    G’night!

  2. October 16, 2007 7:25 am

    “It cannot be a band aid application of flipping through the Psalms until I see a word or two that matches or seems to match. The saturation of His Word in my life must be thorough.”

    On second reading (and a cup of coffee–good morning, Elle!) this sentence stood out.

    Unless we are daily in the Word, purposefully reading and seeking to understand it, we will always either seek a bandaid or fall back on our old favorite “Bible promises.”

    There’s all the difference in the world between recalling scripture to mind and looking to the One who is revealed in all His glory during times of trouble and mumbling a “Bible promise.”

    Some of my grandma’s Bible promises weren’t even in the Bible! : D

    (God helps those who help themselves, etc.)

  3. October 16, 2007 9:15 am

    These entries from Matthew have been a rich read. Be encouraged in your diligence in this study Elle!! blessings…

  4. October 18, 2007 8:49 am

    “It cannot be a band aid application of flipping through the Psalms until I see a word or two that matches or seems to match. The saturation of His Word in my life must be thorough.”

    This time of year it’s not uncommon to catch a cold or sinus infection. When this happens our doctors prescribe an antibiotic to fight the infection. As with many medications, it is essenntial that we take the antibiotic in it’s entirety. If we take just enough to make us feel better, the infection remains and often grows stronger only to return with greater intensity later.

    God’s Word is like an antibiotic. We must take the whole dose, as instructed, for it’s healing properties to be effective.

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