Psalm 77; Proverbs 30:1-9; Matthew 4:1-11

Photo by Juli Kosolapova on Unsplash

The tempting of Jesus in the wilderness by the enemy is one of those stories that I find to be quite insightful. It is also one of the stories that challenges me deeply. I’m not sure that I’d be able to pass the test.

As I think about this passage again this morning I am more and more aware that the interaction has a lot to do with power.

The first temptation is about food. I think I would call this the power to provide. Jesus has been fasting for forty days at this point and the enemy tells him to turn the rocks into bread (there are rocks in Palestine that look like loaves of bread). As a dad and a husband I feel a lot of pressure to provide. Not from anyone else, but from myself. I think if someone said, “Hey here’s this thing, just do this, and you’d have the power to provide forever,” I would probably do it and not think about it. Yet, Jesus in this moment determines to trust God to provide.

The second temptation is what I would call the power to protect. Jesus is tempted to throw himself off the top of the Temple to prove that God would protect him. Yet, Jesus determines not to put God to the test. Again, if I were offered the ability to have unlimited power to protect myself or my family what I do? I would fail the test. I want to say that I’d be willing to hold on to my principles and trust God but, I’m just not sure.

The final temptation is simply power for the sake of power. The enemy says all Jesus has to do is worship the enemy and all the world would be his. What would it take for me to de-center my worship of God? If I was offered the power over the kingdoms of the world would I take it? Again, I hope that I would choose to trust God. But, I just don’t know. In the Lord Of the Rings - Fellowship of the Ring, one of the key moments is when Gandalf refuses to take the Ring of Power from Frodo. He says that he would use it for good but it would corrupt him. When we are promised this kind of power it will inevitably corrupt us.

The upside down way of Jesus is sacrificial love. It is loving enemies and neighbors. It is choosing the cross over saving ourselves.