Sunday, January 28, 2018
If You are the Son of God
After Jesus was baptized, the Bible says that the Spirit “immediately” led Jesus into the wilderness. The word “wilderness” is often translated as “desert.” And desert often symbolizes a time of test, trial, or discipline.
If I were him, I would find this little disturbing. I would think to myself, “I’ve waited for this moment for 30 years. Now that I am baptized, I can finally minister to people. But what? The Spirit is calling me to the wilderness to be disciplined? For what?” But here is something we should all learn. Before you want to jump into ministry, pray and discern if that is really what God wants you to do. Before you dive into ministry, pray for the right mind and heart that you follow God’s ways not your ways.
Jesus did not eat or drink for forty days and forty nights. He was fasting. When you fast, you you refrain from all distractions, even physical needs, so that you can give all of your attention to prayer.
The “tempter” was another name for the devil, or Satan. The book of Luke tells us that Satan tried to tempt Jesus throughout His forty days in the wilderness (Luke 4:2).
And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” This wasn’t about Jesus’ hunger. Satan is using hunger to attack Jesus’ identity. Of course, Jesus could make bread. Making bread was no big deal for Jesus. Later in the gospel, we learn that he can feed more than 5,000 people. There is no doubt he can’t make bread out of stones.
BUT the temptation isn’t about what Jesus can do or cannot do. It is about his faith in God and in himself. The word “if” indicates that Satan was questioning whether or not Jesus was truly God. Satan tried to place doubt in the mind of Jesus with the words “If you are the Son of God” as if Jesus is NOT the Son of God. If Jesus proves to Satan by making bread, Jesus is disobeying God and submitting to Satan’s scheme by giving him what he wants. Satan is using hunger to attack Jesus’ identity. It appears to us that Jesus could overcome the temptation by proving to Satan. Jesus’ fasting is not about proving who he is to Satan. It was about whether he will rely on God or himself.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread. He also lives on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Deuteronomy 8:3). When Jesus said, “It is written”, He was referring to Scripture. By quoting this Scripture, Jesus made it clear that He is not fighting the fight himself but God is. He quoted Scripture because there is the power of God in the Word of God. This is another reason why we need to study the Word of God and meditate on it day and night.
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple” History tells us that a part of Herod’s temple was about 450 feet high. It is likely that Satan took Jesus to Jerusalem to stand on that part of the temple.
Satan challenged Jesus to throw Himself down. He reasoned again that IF Jesus was God’s Son, then God would surely protect Him from such fall. Satan tried to get Jesus to do something that would force God to help Him. Certainly, God is able to rescue His children from incredible danger, however, to act foolishly and then expect God to deliver you is to put God to the test.
The second part of the verse is Satan quoting Psalm. Did you know that Satan is aware of what is written in the Bible? He quoted this verse to Jesus: "The Lord will command His angels to take good care of you. They will lift you up in their hands. Then you won’t trip over a stone" (Psalm 91:11-12). Satan is tricky and has many disguises. He sounds like a Christian here. It is something that sounds familiar to us. We often hear people say, “I will do this no matter what because I know God is for me and with me. God will fight the battle for me.” Then, I think to myself, “Do you really want to bring God into this? Do you really want to contain God and use God’s name? Have you prayed enough to discern what God wants?”
However, Satan knows the Bible very well and uses it to get what he wants, not what God wants. Another reason for us to study the Bible and discern its true message.
Jesus addressed the real issue by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16. Jesus answered him, “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, it is not really about God. God is who God is no matter what, whether we obey or disobey, worship or betray, or love or hate. The temptation is about us really. Are we going to surrender ourselves to God’s way? Or Are we going to be stubborn and deny God’s way?
Satan then takes Jesus to a very high mountain to show him all the kingdoms. And the promise was that he would give them to Jesus IF only Jesus would fall down and worship him. Finally, Satan reveals his true intention. It was not about being concerned at Jesus’ hunger or safety. In fact, it was all about Jesus’ identity. Satan was afraid what Jesus was going to do-conquer evil and save the world. Satan is now trying to stop Jesus from accomplishing his mission.
Satan is saying to Jesus, “Look, you came as the king to inherit the nations. Here they are. Why go through the trouble of being the suffering servant to get to the crown. Give me one moment’s homage, respect or honor, and I will abdicate, renounce, or give you these kingdoms.” Notice that Satan is offering the “kingdoms,” plural kingdoms. All divided, not united. Some are against each other. Some are full of hatred. More powerful ones are looking to dominate others.
It made me think about Game of Thrones. My friend recommended to watch it. I started the first season, and now I can’t stop. Anyway, in the first season, a king is trying to maintain unity and peace among 7 kingdoms but behind his attempts, there are so many dirty politics, lies, betrayals, fights, war, etc. Who wants all divided kingdoms?
Who wants them when the Father had promised the Son a Kingdom that is united in peace and righteousness and harmony and that is eternal? Satan’s offer is a cheap substitute. If Jesus was spiritually blind and unable to see what God promised him, Jesus would have accepted Satan’s offer. But Jesus did not forget why he came down and what he had to accomplish. Because Jesus saw the coming of the kingdom of God, he refused to take the offer.
If Jesus had bowed down to Satan, he is sinning against God because the Bible says we are only supposed to worship God. And if that had been the case, his death wouldn’t save us because it wasn’t a sinless death. It would be a sacrifice for his sin, not ours.
So Jesus’ response was, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the LORD your God, and serve Him only.’” This too comes from Deuteronomy (6:13).
Finally, we have angles come down and ministered to him.
There are many lessons to be learned in the story. First, before you jump into ministry, pray and carefully discern if you are ready to commit yourself to God’s ministry. Even Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted whether Jesus was going to rely on God or himself.
Second, Satan will come to you no matter where you are, whether you are good places in life or not. Remember, this happened right after Jesus’ baptism when he heard the Father’s voice and received the Holy Spirit. And Jesus was tempted when he was fasting. Guard your heart against Satan at all times.
Third, meditate on the Word of God day and night and take joy in it. Notice Jesus did not rely on himself to fight against the Satan and its temptations. Jesus used the Word of God because there is power in the Word of God. Here, we have another reason to study the Bible.
Fourth, set your eyes on what is eternal, God’s promises. Do not be lured by what Satan offers to you. It may seem pleasing and tempting but that is how sin permeates throughout your heart, mind, and body.
Fifth, rely on the Holy Spirit. There is a spiritual warfare inside of you. You will hear two voices within you. One is Satan’s and the other is God’s. It is not about how well you can fight against Satan. It is about surrendering to God and depending on Him. We have to receive the Spirit to guide us, protect us, and lead us.
Remember, meditate on the Word of God and rely on the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. That means God does not give us what we can’t handle but God helps us handle what we’ve been given.