Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Matthew 4:1-11 - "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit..."

1 Corinthians 15:22 says, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." Adam's failure was that greed possessed him in a garden of plenty. He could eat from any tree in the garden except one, and that was the very one he coveted. The devil saw that seed of rebellion in Adam's heart. He tempted Adam by getting to him through his wife Eve. Satan 1, Adam 0.

For Jesus to kick off his ministry as the "second Adam" he had to reverse the consequences of Adam's sin by far surpassing him in righteousness. Jesus is placed not in a garden but a wilderness, and instead of being surrounded by an abundance of food he must fast for forty days. Jesus' situation is exponentially more difficult than what Adam faced--and now the devil comes to tempt him.

I wasn't there, obviously, so I can't tell you the tone Satan used when he said to Jesus, "If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread." But I can imagine Jesus languishing, maybe even crawling pitifully along in that wasteland (the human body does shut down after forty days of starvation), while Satan stands over him full of mocking and contempt. "Help yourself for crying shame! Are you the Son of God or what? Do something and turn these stones into bread!"

Jesus answers by quoting Scripture: "It is written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'" And Satan says, "Ohhh! So we're obeying Scripture now, are we? Let's see . . . Scripture, Scripture . . . ahh, I've got some Scripture for you:
He will give his angels charge concerning you.
On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.

"If you want to obey Scripture, why not throw yourself off the top of this temple so the angels could catch you?" But Jesus replies that there's a big difference between faith, which rests in God's promises, and doubt, which is always putting those promises to the test.

Lastly Satan takes Jesus up to a mountain (he seems to be dragging Jesus everywhere, to the temple, to the mountain. Maybe Jesus is so weak he can hardly walk). He offers Jesus a shortcut to glory that bypasses having to go to the cross. "Look, you don't have to suffer and die for these kingdoms. I'll give them to you, and I'll even make you my right hand man. Deal?"

It is similar to the promise Satan made Adam. Worship me and I'll make you into a king. Jesus does what Adam should have done. He quotes God's word and tells Satan to get lost. Jesus 1, Satan 0. If only Adam had responded as Jesus did. If only he'd said, "Begone, snake! For God said, 'In the day that you eat from this tree you shall surely die.'" Everything would've turned out differently.

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