“Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matthew 4:7)
I need to stop and think about this one. How can I put the Lord my God to the test? I mean, He’s my Creator right? How do you put your Creator to the test? This makes no sense to me, yet we all wind up being guilty at times of doing just this. When I’m the one who deserves testing, when I’m the one whose “metal” and character needs to be proven, I set up situations in my life where I guess I wind up challenging God and trying to get Him to fall under my approval. What am I thinking?
I’m so grateful for Jesus’s words in Matthew. I’m so grateful that Jesus, as a human like me, was tempted, or tested. I’m so grateful because in the middle of His temptation, He demonstrated to me the heart attitude I ought to have every moment of my life. Because if I don’t have that heart attitude that is followed by right actions, I won’t make it successfully and victoriously through those temptations. I’m so grateful for this true life account and the others in Scripture that have been shared with us for our benefit. I’m glad that You gave us these accounts so that I could have the instruction I need to walk victoriously through my every day life circumstances, Lord. I’m glad that these stories are a reminder to me that I don’t stand alone and I don’t stand as master of my destiny. Because if I start thinking like that, like everything is all about me and my approval and my satisfaction, then I am going to fall, and I am going to fall big time!
But the truth that will keep me from falling is remembering. And part of what I need to remember is that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” I’m not alone in my struggles. It’s part of humanity. Even Jesus had to go through it. But I’m not just not alone because others are going through these things too. We could all just fall under the power of these temptations just as easily as the next guy, right? But the good news that gets us through is that “God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” Oh, that’s great! You give me a way out, Lord. Now I wonder if that’s what Paul is really saying here. Or is he saying, “God, You are faithful. You are my way out of temptation. If I cling to You, if I love You more that what is tempting me, if I hunger and thirst after You most, if I remain focussed on You and desire You and Your approval, then, and only then You will get me through the test and I will escape because You alone are my Escape.”
That’s what You Jesus, demonstrated before us that day that You were tempted by the devil. You were hungry for real food. God’s word says so. Since You were hungry for it and had that desire for food, that was something the devil could use to lure You to want food more than obedience to Your Father. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” Simple enough, right? But You were ready for that subtle attack. I mean, after all, You are God, and You could have commanded those stones to become bread. You would soon turn water into wine. No big deal, right?
Let’s think about that day. Jesus, his disciples, and his mother Mary are attending a wedding. It seems as though Joseph may have died by this point in time making Jesus the “man of the house” in Mary’s household. Mary, like women are prone to, sees a problem evolving and wants to mend any conflict for the others before it happens, so she let’s Jesus know of the situation. Obviously, she has no doubt that He can take care of the problem. But He gives her a snarky response, right? “Woman, what does this have to do with me?” But what if this wasn’t a snarky, disrespectful remark? What if the title “Woman” was used as an endearment? And what if the literal translation of the Greek is rendered this way, ““What to me and to you, woman?” What if Jesus’s response to Mary wasn’t disinterest, but inviting Mary to think about how this situation, this circumstance relates Mary and Jesus together? What if Jesus is really inviting his mom into the solution with love? What if He’s asking for her cooperation? And cooperate she does. She goes and tells the servant, “Do whatever He tells you.” And Jesus turns water into wine and because Mary cooperated with Him, his disciples believed in Him. I’m thinking that includes Mary believing even more strongly.
So we hop back to You, Jesus, refusing to turn stones to bread? Why? Because You chose to cooperate with God instead. You understood the question before You ever asked it of Mary. “Son, what is this between You and Me?” And You remembered God’s words and knew what it was. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” I can hear You thinking, “I love You and Your honor more than my own honor and glory. You are way better. Glorifying myself would break our relationship. It’s not worth it. You are worth everything! And what is mere bread anyways compared to You? Yes, I’m hungry, but You’ll take care of me the best way.”
So the devil tries again and figures, if hunger isn’t the issue, maybe a desire for power or pride could be. Maybe he can get Jesus to misquote Scripture for His own benefit, to make Himself look good and spectacular before others. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” That’s Scripture, right? It does say that.
That reminds me of Paul’s words to Timothy. “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) Paul isn’t talking about having a theological, intellectual knowledge of God’s Word here. He’s talking about making it so personal, and cooperating with the Holy Spirit, in order to listen and learn to dissect it correctly. See, it’s a divine message, so we need to cooperate with a divine Counselor to understand it correctly. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2 that the Spirit helps us understand things of God, and teaches us how to interpret spiritual truths from His Word. “What to me and to you, right?” A lot. Everything.
I need to be related together with God through His Word by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus, You were related that closely together with God. You were so intimately intwined and related that You could pick up false teaching immediately and counter it. you knew the heart of God’s Word. You knew the intent. How? Because Your life was all about being in relationship with Your heavenly Father. “I and my Father are one,” were words straight from Your own mouth. You said it because it was true about your relationship. And when You were only 12 years old You said, “Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” That’s not about following an agenda or a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s about being so close with God, spending so much time with Him, that You know His heart and You follow and obey Your Father’s heart, Your Father’s will. You knew how to be about what Your Father was about. Spend enough really personal time with someone and you come to know that about them.
And because of that intimacy of Your relationship, Jesus, You answered “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” JeYou knew that You had no need to prove that Your heavenly Father would be true to His Word. After all God is Truth. God is Faithful. We’re the one’s that need to be proven. And here it was time for You to be tested to show who You really were and where Your heart really was. We’re the ones who need to be tested to see where our relationship with and to God lies. God’s relationship to us never changes. We’re the ones who prove whether we know Him at all our not. We prove that by how well we know His words and how well we live them out by faith.
John tells us that if we love ourselves most, we’ll lose ourselves. But if we love God most, we’ll have life eternal. Not only that, but if we love Jesus, we won’t just do God’s commands, we’ll be related with them. I won’t just do them because I have to. I’ll understand their importance to my life. They will be relational to my well-being because God is relational to my well-being. Loving Him is relational with loving everything about Him which reciprocates His love and the love of Jesus so that I experience it in it’s fullness. Actually, He was the first to reciprocate His love to me before I ever knew how to love Him, so that I could relate and come to love Him! I don’t ask God to perform to prove Himself. I participate in what He’s already begun. I partner with Him continually by following His lead, not expecting Him to follow mine.
If that wasn’t enough, the devil continued to try again by taking You, Jesus, up to the top of a mountain and trying to lure You to seek Your own glory by giving You the world. He actually asks You to bow down to him and worship him. Strange thing is that God had already promised You all the people and all the nations of the world. So why would the devil’s offer be any kind of lure? Well, I suppose it’s often more inviting to get what I am promised now instead of having to wait until later. Immediate gratification seems to cause a lot of woe. I mean, even in something as simple as being a little hungry. I don’t necessarily wait for the healthy thing. I satisfy my hunger by grabbing for the quick and easy snack. Therefore, I struggle with maintaining my best weight. If You took the kingdom the devil’s way, You wouldn’t have to go to the cross. Well, that would be easier.
But thank goodness You demonstrated that it wasn’t at all about immediate gratification or finding an easier way. You could answer with all Your conviction, “Get out of here, Satan: for it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” In other words, God’s expectation for us, for us to be accepted is to adore Him, you know, our Creator, above everything else. And the proof of our adoration is exhibited through our service. Serving God means doing the work or service or homage that is required. I can’t minister to God that way unless I know what He requires. And I don’t have the freedom to decide the requirements for myself or do it my own way. Worship is ministering like the faithful steward who knows everything about His master. It’s being a Joseph for God.
Joseph had such a good relationship with his master that everything was his to be in charge of. His master trusted him that much. And Joseph’s heart was for God and his master so much that he wouldn’t touch his master’s wife even though tempted. How could he stand through all that? Because first and foremost he worshipped and obeyed God. He heard God asking him, “What to me and to you, Joseph?” And Joseph knew that everything balanced upon that relationship between God and him. And You, Jesus, more than any of us, were demonstrating the power of that reality before us so that we would be able to ask ourselves that same question.
“What to Me and to you?” I need to ask myself that question in every circumstance, in every situation, in every trial and tribulation. How is our relationship, Lord? How can we be relational in the midst of this circumstance of life? How can I participate with You? How can I know Your will? How can I obey You? How can I please You more and be accepted? I think it would behoove me to join in Paul’s prayer that I might be filled with the knowledge of Your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; so that I might walk worthy of You, and pleasing to You, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in how much I know You; being strengthened with all might according to Your glorious power, to all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto my Father, who has enabled me to be a partaker of His inheritance, of all that is in Him and of Him and through Him! (Colossians 1) I don’t keep your commands and do Your will, those things that are pleasing to You because I have to. I can do them because of experiencing Your great love for me and because I have grown to love You so. It’s not a “have to” thing. Not when I delight in You.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Trusting in the Lord becomes so much better when I realize that He is to be delighted in. The more I trust Him, the more I learn to delight in Him. The more I trust and delight in Him, the deeper I find myself committing to Him. And the more I commit myself because I adore You more and more moment by moment, the more I see Your hand in my life and around me and the more I’m willing to rest in You and learn to wait patiently. You become so worth the wait and so worth the trial and so worth the closeness of falling at Your feet, of having You pick me up, of having my Father come and rescue me.
Jesus, You experienced that rescue. When You refused Satan’s copycat lures, the heavenly Father sent His angels to feed and encourage and love on You. And when I refuse Satan’s copycat lures because I know what it is between God and me, then He will be there every time to rescue and encourage and nourish me too. It is written, “If a man loves Me, he will keep My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.” (John 14:23) Lord, may I desire Your closeness, Your presence, more than anything else. May I desire You so much, that I keep Your words, no matter what is going on in my life. May my every thought be more captivated by You than by any other desire. May my thoughts always be about what You are to me and what I am to you.