In the end of Matthew chapter three, Jesus is baptized, and He goes from being baptized to a time of testing in the desert. Mounce has this to say about this transition,
“Times of testing… come from the Lord in order to strengthen and help… Will he, like Israel of old, disobey, or will he prove himself worthy of the messianic task assigned to him?” – Robert MounceNew International Biblical Commentary — Matthew, p. 28
Times of testing are necessary for the Christian, because they are the times that show where our faith really stands. It can be easy to talk the talk, but it is harder to walk the walk. How amazing is it to think that there have been many throughout history who have specifically asked not to be removed from the trial, but to be strengthened through it (such as pastor Andrew Brunson from Turkey a few years ago).
Mounce also points out that “Although God arranges for the time of testing, it is the tempter who carries out the temptations.”ibid, p.28
James 1:13 states “no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, ‘God is tempting me.’ God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either.” In this, we understand that Jesus, although fully God, was also fully human. So God doesn’t tempt, but He does allow us to be tempted.
Mounce also picks up on the fact that with the first temptation Jesus showed that He trusted God, now Satan seeks to challenge just how far that trust will go. Mounce quotes Filson (a theologian) regarding this as “a pious-sounding misuse of scripture.” This is why context is so important. Yet Jesus uses scripture once again.
And finally, Satan tempts Jesus with what would have been his greatest deceit… avoid the suffering that is to come, and worship me, and I will give you everything. Don’t we see this call for us today?
- I want to get healthy but without eating right or exercising…
- I want to succeed in work but I don’t want to put in the work necessary to succeed…
- I want a relationship with God, but I don’t want to put in the time necessary to build a relationship…
- I want to see the church become all God would have it be, as long as it is structured the way I want, with my favorite music, and focusing on the things that are important to me…
I think that this is more relevant now than maybe any time in history. We want things that we haven’t earned, and now we are even being told that we deserve to have things that we haven’t worked for. This is bringing about a generation of weak human beings, including Christians, who want their medal for showing up, and get angry when things don’t go their way.
Today’s scripture is especially challenging for those seeking to be a part of a multiethnic ministry, or develop cross-cultural relationships, because both of these require work and sacrifice… something that people seem to be less and less willing to do.
I happened to come across a quote today from Luis Palau. He said,
“The you face the perils of weariness, carelessness, and confusion, don’t pray for an easier life. Pray instead to be a stronger man or woman of God.”
As we seek to travel along the multicolored road, ay we become a people who seek Him in His word, and desire to be stronger in our faith, that He may be glorified through us!