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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pretty Tempting...

What was God’s intent in creation? The man and woman were given a task: to work the garden. We know God came and went. There is a relationship, a covenant of love. There are expectations of obedience. We know God wants what was best for His children. What tempted   Eve? The snake was an agent, casting doubt on God by its question, but the desire was within her. The Hebrew makes it clear it is in the eyes, a hungry, even lust filled looking at the forbidden tree. She exercises her freedom to disobey. She chooses her own way rather than God’s.
Paul wrote in Romans that Adam is a type of Jesus. Adam and Eve are most types of Israel as well. Like the first parents, Israel receives God’s Torah. Like them, she fails to obey, lusting after other gods and sinning. Like them she suffers exile from her land. Lest we fail to understand the church (including you & I), also, follows the same road to perdition.
Sin is something bad, yet desirable. Eve wanted what looked good to her. And we know much about a person based on what they are tempted by.
This Lent our focus is seeking Jesus. We pray, study and work to know and love Jesus more. What insight into His heart can we gain by reflecting on His temptations?
Obviously, Matthew draws a parallel between Jesus and Israel. Exodus is the Biblical key as we read that Jesus is in the wilderness. Like Israel, He is being tested. He is free to choose obedience or sin. I think that the temptations were not just a brief conflict with Satan, but a description of Jesus’ own inner battles throughout His ministry. These temptations are particular to Him, and they help us understand Him. He is not tempted with drinking, women or gambling!
·        The first temptation should be read on two levels. The Biblical forty is symbolic and significant. Moses, Dtn 9:18 fasted forty days from food and drink as he lay prostrate interceding for Israel after the golden calf affair and Elijah, I Kings 19:8, fasts that long as he journeys to Horeb, as he complained that he was “the only one left” and all Israel had “forsaken your covenant, torn down your altars and killed your prophets.” [Both of these figures appeared with Jesus last week at the Transfiguration and both loom large as types]
·        Jesus fulfills their missions. However, more significantly, Jesus is fulfilling the Scriptures here. In Dtn 8:2-3 we read: Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger then by feeding you with manna, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. ….Matthew has not written this by accident
·        So Jesus is NOT like Eve, or Adam, in the garden and He is NOT like Israel in the dessert. Jesus passed the test, He remained faithful to God.
·        And what did this temptation look life for Jesus in His ministry? I believe (may be wrong) that it was at the multiplication of loaves to feed thousands. He was tempted by love—the desire to provide for those people for whom He passionately cares. He is tempted to be a popular savior and bread king; to feed the masses with loaves instead of His own flesh; to give them what they want and not what they need.
·        In a similar way, the other two tests/temptations also call Jesus to forsake God’s vision of Messiah (cross). Jumping off the Temple means embrace the “magical, mystical miracle tour” (folks love the healings!) and do amazing things (people love the show!) but not be the King God sent Him to be.
·        The “lustful eyes” of the people do not want God, they want bread and circuses! Jesus, out of love (like a misguided parent) is tempted to give them what they desire not what God desires for them.
·        Jesus wanted worldly power for us! He wanted to make the Kingdom benefits happen now. Satan played on that. Inviting Jesus to forget the Father and embrace worldly power.Jesus’ miracles were a risk for Him. His love for humanity and desire to help people were the good things that Satan sought to twist and pervert. This temptation reappears later, when Jesus tells the disciples that He must suffer and die; Peter says “no Lord!” and Jesus says, “get behind me Satan.”
·        So I believe that Jesus was tempted. I imagine He was vulnerable to the idea: “Can’t I do more good by miracles and compromise? How much good could I do if I was in charge, a real king on earth making the world a better place for everyone.” See how that idea, being a miracle worker and earthly king looked appealing? How it was tempting? And do you understand what the cost would have been—to worship satan; to be anti-chist and not Christ?
But, thanks be to God, Jesus chose the Father’s will. That is who He is. You know Him better now. It is why we

should love Him more. He did it all for us

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