I have updated and reblogged the following under a new title because my general readership did not get it for some reason. Thus it is not de ja vu if it sounds familair to some of you:
The temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 is fascinating especially as we compare it to the temptation of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. I say Adam and Eve because Adam wasn’t off playing golf somewhere while Eve was being tempted, but was right there in all of his masculine silence (Gen 3:6). In Rom 5, Paul actually lays blame for sin entering the world upon the man and not the woman. Thus you have a sense that in Matt 4 Jesus is the “Second Adam” ; he is God’s Champion fighting to win back the territory lost to Satan by sinful humanity.
What is striking is the contrast between the two temptation scenes. Genesis 3 occurs in the midst of a garden of plenty; the only place in human history where the phrase “it doesn’t get any better than this” would have been an accurate description. The two humans were fat, full, and free. Jesus, on the other hand was in a desert wilderness not a garden; he was alone and hungry after fasting for 40 days. This contrast shows us that Old Clawfoot (I’m not talking about bathtubs) can come at us whether we are in plenty or in want, happy or suffering, married or single.
Where the two scenes converge is with the temptation itself. In both cases, Satan attacks the goodness and trustworthiness of God. To Adam and Eve: “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” Satan implied, “What kind of God would put you in a beautiful place of abundance and then tell you that you can’t have what you see? Go ahead and help yourselves to what you desire; it won’t hurt you, in fact, it will be empowering and fulfilling; it’s not wrong, it will give dignity and equality.” To Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” Satan implied, “Didn’t God just tell you that you were his beloved son? And now look at you; alone, hungry, desolate- is that anyway to treat your son? What kind of Father is he? Take things into your own hands and make these stones into bread. You have the power.”
In both cases old Claw-foot sought to insinuate that God didn’t care for his sons and daughter by calling into question the Word of God. Satan did the same thing in the Book of Job, where he questioned the Word which God spoke about his servant Job by insinuating that the only reason why Job was faithful was because he knew where his bread was buttered. In other words, God is not worthy to be worshiped for who He is unless He pays off His worshipers with benefits. “But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (Job 1:11). Satan said virtually the same thing in Job 2:5.
One thing you can always bank on is that Satan hates God and is jealous of His position. His deepest desire is to be worshiped and this was made abundantly clear in the third temptation of Jesus in Matt 4. Thus while Satan’s strategy changes from person to person and situation to situation, what remains the same are his lies and insinuations about God and His goodness. He will always tempt us to doubt God’s Word and to act independently of God’s provision. Remember that he is a liar (the father of lies) and will offer you anything because he never has to make good on those promises. He is incapable of speaking the truth; truth gets stuck in his throat. He may promise you the moon but in the end you will have nothing but moldy cheese.
So are you in a good place in your life right now? Beware lest you be tempted to believe that you have gained “all these good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the Lord” (Deut 6:11, 12). Give Him thanks and do not cease in your worship and praise to Him for His goodness and provision. “We give Thee but thine own, what ‘ere the gift may be; all that we have is Thine alone, a trust, O Lord, from Thee.”
Perhaps you are in a place of pain or suffering some kind of deprivation; beware lest you be tempted to believe that God does not care what you are facing or that you are being punished for your sins so that you are on your own to find relief. I am reminded of how Solomon Northrup (Twelve Years a Slave) hung on to his identity as a beloved son of God in spite of the horrors of his being kidnapped and enslaved during the Civil War.
We must never forget that the way of the cross is often a way of pain because our discipleship calls us to submit to the Lordship of Jesus rather than succumb to the pressures of prevailing culture, which has been usurped by the god of this world. “We are all summoned to various forms of self denial. The struggle against disordered desires, or the misdirection of innocent desires, is part of every Christian’s life, consciously undertaken in baptism.” (John Stott)
Let us not lapse into self-pity or listen to the plausible arguments of Old Clawfoot. Let us instead, like our Savior, listen to the Word of God: “Fear not little flock for it is your Father’s good will to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me (Jesus)” (John 14:1). Nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:39).
[Happy 4th! My dad would have been 109 today if he had lived past 59.]