Day Four: Thursday, June 11th, 2020
Bible Lesson: Matthew 4:1-11
Reflection from Pastor Wayne Eberly:
“What is in your heart?
The contrast between the ending of Matthew’s third chapter and the beginning of the fourth is jarring. From the rapturous revelation that accompanies the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the descending dove and the voice affirming that Jesus is God’s Beloved Son we are immediately thrust into a desert scene where the Beloved Son of God is tempted by none other than the devil.
Confronted by the devil, the way Jesus responds serves as both comparison and contrast to the nation of Israel during their time of testing as they wandered in the wilderness.
- Israel spent 40 years in the desert…Jesus spent 40 days.
- Bread was given as a daily reminder of God’s provision for Israel…Jesus was offered bread to satisfy the hunger that gnawed at his stomach following forty days without food.
- The desert was a place of testing for Israel…Jesus was tested when the devil came at him with the sole purpose of tempting the Son of God.
- The desert provided the people of Israel the perfect opportunity to show what was in their heart…the desert provide the Son of God the perfect opportunity to show what was in his heart.
The way Jesus answers the temptations of the devil goes a long way to helping us connect his experience in the desert with the forty years spent by his ancestors as they wandered in the wilderness. Each time Jesus is tempted, he uses the lessons God was trying to teach Israel in their wilderness wanderings to shut down the devil.
- Turn stones to bread. “It is written, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Deuteronomy 8:3, words designed to help Israel learn that as God provided the daily bread of manna, so God’s word is the daily bread that sustains the people on their journey of faith)
- Throw yourself down from the highest place of the temple. “It is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Deuteronomy 6:16, words that called Israel to account for all the times they tested God in the wilderness)
- Bow down and worship me. “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Deuteronomy 6:13, one of numerous passages warning Israel that they would face the constant temptation of putting their faith and trust in idols, in other gods, in false gods)
While it is tempting for us to read the seemingly endless chapters describing the wanderings in the wilderness and come away thinking that was nothing but an aimless journey, God makes clear in Deuteronomy 8 that the sojourn in the desert had an aim, an aim that was clear cut and compelling. The journey was not aimless, not in any way, shape, or form. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart…” (Deuteronomy 8:2) By the time Jesus says, “Away from me, Satan!” it is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt what is in the heart of God’s Beloved Son. The heart of Jesus is filled with an undying commitment and steadfast devotion to his Father in heaven.
“The basic, underlying temptation that Jesus shared with us is the temptation to treat God as less than God. We may not be tempted to turn stones into bread, but we are constantly tempted to mistrust God’s readiness to empower us to face our trials. None of us is likely to put God to the test by leaping from a cliff, but we are frequently tempted to question God’s helpfulness when things go awry…Pagan idolatry is no more a temptation for us than it was for Jesus, but compromise with the ways of the world is a continuing seduction. It is indeed difficult for us to worship and serve God only. We should be continually grateful that we have a great high priest who, tempted as we are, was able to resist all such temptations by laying hold of Scripture and firmly acknowledging that only God is God.” (Hare, p. 25, 26)