So, Day three of Lent focuses on Matthew Chapter 4. To do a quick summary, Jesus is tempted in the Wilderness, begins his ministry in Capernaum, begins gathering together his core group of disciples, and begins healing the sick.
Down to business!
The story of Jesus being tempted in the Wilderness is probably one of the most famous stories in the New Testament. This isn’t the only place where it’s told. Luke 4:1-13 also recounts it, with the temptations listed in a slightly different order. It's so familiar to me, I almost found myself glossing over it the first time I read it. But as I chewed through it some more, some thoughts became more apparent to me.
The devil tries three different tactics. The innocuous, the misquote, and the blatant. It's interesting to see the build-up. The innocuous seems pretty reasonable. "Hey! Dude! You're hungry! Let's get some food whipped up." As someone who doesn't pass up a free meal, I don't think I'd question this.
The misquote is more devious. It can come in ways you wouldn't expect. For example, someone could quote a scripture with the best of intentions, but do it completely out of context. This could be well-intentioned, but have disastrous consequences -- especially in the lives of young Christians.
I think the tempter sounds like "Buddy Jesus." Buddy Jesus is a term I use to try to humanize Jesus. Another example of this is "Jesus is my Homeboy." Really, it seems like they're trying to justify what they're doing. They combine the innocuous tempting and the mis-quote together to assuage their guilt. And, mea culpa, I do this a lot. One of my favorites for a long time was the justification "I don't have to address this sin in my life! I'm in ministry, so I'm good with God."
|Jesus is Just Alright with Me|
When we make Jesus into our friend rather than He who holds the World together, we are attempting to remove his divinity. We're marginalizing our own faith in order to feel better about what's wrong with our lives. Cognitive dissonance sets in. When that happens, behavior modification happens, and a downward spiral begins. How many Christians' faith has been destroyed by this justification? How close has mine come to ruin because of this?
In the end, though, the tempter tries to use blunt force, blatant force of will to get Jesus' ministry derailed. And Jesus is able to withstand it because he's relying on his Heavenly Father for strength and years of scriptural learning for guidance. Blunt force may be the most obvious, but it can be effective. Especially when you've already been seduced by the innocuous and the misquote.
Lord, Thank you for your Divinity and your humanity. Thank you that you can see things from the view of the cosmos and the eyes of a limited human struggling with temptation. Please make me aware of the temptations that are around me so I can walk through them and be a stronger man. Amen.