Sunday, April 22, 2012

Christ's Temptation in the Desert

Or what allure is a wife, baby and a little house in Bethany to the Author of creation?

Mark 1:9-15

A few key points: Christ had just been baptized by John. God the Father proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Christ was filled with the Holy Spirit and led into the wilderness specifically for this test.

Notice that huge gap between verse 13 and verse 14. For whatever reason, Mark chose to compress his narrative, yet Matthew expounded upon it greatly (4:1-12), detailing the conversation between the devil and Christ after 40 days of fasting.

The devil sought to attack Christ in person, on several different levels; human and divine. And we know the devil is not stupid. He was once the wisest and most powerful created being in Heaven ( Ezekiel 28:12-15).  But, full of his own hubris and delusion, the devil's reach exceeded his grasp in his failed coupe against God Almighty (Isaiah 14:12-14). Jesus Himself bears witness to the devil's demise when He told His disciples, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven" (Luke10:18).

The first two temptations are nearly identical in method: first, the eternal, then the temporal. "If thou be the Son of God..." The devil initiates the temptations by trying to sow doubt. It's a similar tactic the devil used on Eve in the garden: "Did God really say....?" (Genesis 3:1). Are you sure about that? The devil is a master at delusion and deception.

But God the Father had already proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

The devil now wants Christ to quench His earthly hunger by turning stones into bread via His own will thereby short cutting the Father's will. But Christ puts on the armor of Scripture and rebuffs the devil's attack; "...It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Deuteronomy 8:3).

The devil then tries again; "If thou be the Son of God..." but that attack is even more impotent the second time. Misery loves company, and the devil now wants Christ to use His own power apart from God the Father to command the angels. The devil transports Christ to the temple in Jerusalem and commands He cast himself down and call the angels for help. But again Christ thwarts the devil's attack. "Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 6:16-17).

The devil's last temptation of Christ is an outright power grab; "...the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me." 

Christ then commands the devil to depart from Him and yet, once again, draws the sword of Scripture to slay His enemy, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve" (Deuteronomy 6:16-17).

The devil departed and the angels of God came to Christ. He then began His earthly ministry along the shore of Galilee seeking fishers of men.

But notice the source of Scripture Jesus quoted to the devil to defeat him: Deuteronomy, Old Testament stuff.

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Jesus said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." He is the Alpha and Omega. The Author of creation, and all that is in it. All power has been delivered into His hands. This is why modern blather like 'the last temptation of Christ' or 'the da vinci code' is so foolish and offensive to the Christian: What allure is money, or a wife, baby and a little house in Bethany to the Author of creation?

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