Saturday, January 29, 2011

Temptation of Christ: First Temptation

First temptation:
... after fasting forty days and forty nights, [Jesus] was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread." [Blended Gospels]
Satan cast doubt on Jesus’ identity. Are you really the Son of God? Then why are you on the brink of starvation in a world that is supposedly under your rule? And does your Father really love you and is He really pleased with you? He’s obviously not providing for your needs, is He?

Since God has abandoned you, and doesn’t seem to care, don’t you think you should at least do what it takes to survive? It wouldn’t help your ministry to die of hunger, what a waste! What’s it to God if you create for yourself a little bread

Jesus had set aside His glory to become a man. He had taken on all of the limitations of being a human being. He humbled Himself completely before God, trusting God with His every need, just the way you and I are called to do now.

If Jesus had used His power to feed Himself, He would have taken Himself out of God’s provision for Him. He would have taken His glory back, and elevated Himself to become His own provider.

Again Jesus was identifying Himself with His people. God had tested the humility of the Hebrews for forty years in the wilderness when He provided the manna, bread that miraculously appeared every day among the rocks of the desert. Would they humbly receive His provision, or would they get bored and complain?

In this first temptation Jesus’ humility was tested. Would He accept God’s provision of hunger or would He act on the devil’s suggestion to use His creative power, the power of God’s word, to speak the stones into bread so He could eat.
But [Jesus] answered, "It is written, "'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Physical life isn’t everything. Eternal life is everything, and that is the life that is worth preserving.

God’s word is God’s revealed purpose. God’s word went out in Genesis to create the world according to His purposes. The creative word must be connected with God’s will and design.

Think of your talents, your education and experience. God has given you innate abilities plus spiritual gifts to build up and bless people with. But there is a temptation to cash in on our gifts, isn’t there? To use our talents for our own benefit first. Jesus refused to bend God’s creative power to His own benefit.

Think of your hungers: food, sex, love, money, having a good job – you know when it is not God’s will to take that thing, but you convince yourself that you must take it because you need it and you see no relief in sight. Taking what God does not have in mind for you is sin. It will weaken your life of faith, quench the Spirit’s work in your life, and will weaken your ability to help other people.

* Do you feel like the pressure has gotten intolerable?
* Is your need so intense you feel you can’t last another hour, let alone another day?
* Do you feel you absolutely have to get out of the situation you’re in?

Take heart. The good news is you can bear it. Jesus never doubted God’s word to Him that He was God’s beloved Son. He humbly trusted God for His sustenance and refused to accept bread from any hand by His Father’s, even when He was close to starvation.

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