Source: SoundCloud / recreativemedia
Source: SoundCloud / recreativemedia
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
2 Corinthians 5: 17
The number eight is the number of new beginnings and represents the first day of a new cycle. For many, the number eight represents new creation or re-creation which springs forth from the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The resurrection marks the beginning of a new age, an age of regeneration and restoration.
Whenever we pray “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”, we are praying that the power of the resurrection will remake us and the world around us.
To truly encounter Christ therefore means that his power of renewal, restoration, abundance, transformation, reconciliation, re-creation changes us. This transformation is happening even now, we call it Christian discipleship. Re-creation might be described as the destination of the discipleship journey inasmuch as we can talk about a destination point!
The resurrection of Jesus represents the possibility of new beginnings and it is for all creation now, breaking even into this very moment. God in Jesus is making all things new, this was and continues to be God’s mission, the mission Jesus started in his earthly ministry and then commissioned his disciples, empowered by the Spirit of new creation - to outwork throughout the world.
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
2 Corinthians 5:18
Re-creation is therefore our job and happens every time we are obedient to God’s will, every time we resist temptation, every time we pick up a piece of litter, clean a stream, heal a wound, embrace the outcast, sit with the mourning, walk with the disillusioned, invest in young people, nurse the sick. As this is done in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus, God’s Kingdom comes.
As we walk out of this Lenten Wilderness, we do so having considered the temptation of Jesus, we do so having experienced the power of Christ’s passion, having been crucified with Christ and now dead to sin. As we walk into all that today holds for us, we do so as one who has been raised with Christ in resurrection power. Now within us, the Spirit of resurrection works the miracle of re-creation – the first fruits of that perpetual tomorrow when we will meet Jesus face to face in resurrected glory.
Lord Jesus, you are the first born from among the dead, the image of new creation.
Let your Kingdom break out here and now, that we may know the reality of your resurrection worked out in all our living.
You are glorious and we praise you now and forevermore.
Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
Luke 4: 14
Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit at his baptism and was then led into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus resisted every temptation with God’s word and was shown to be the obedient Son of God. We are then told that Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit and conducted his ministry which culminated in his death and resurrection.
for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:22
Today we celebrate resurrection day, when Jesus was raised from the dead. The resurrection vindicated Jesus, authenticated his ministry and proved his claim to be the Son of God. Not only was sin defeated through his blood shed on the cross, but death was overcome. Sin and death, which had enslaved Adam and all those “In Adam” was defeated and those who are “In Christ” not only died with him but were also raised with him.
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.
Resurrection day was the fulcrum point upon which the history of all life in the universe turned; it was the day when everything changed! Resurrection is the Spirit’s work; the same Spirit who filled Jesus at baptism, who empowered him in his ministry to establish God’s Kingdom, who raised him from the grave, who baptised his disciples and made them alive at Pentecost can fill us too. The power of the Spirit of God can give life to our mortal bodies.
As we journey through wilderness places, as we are tempted, we too can resist just as Jesus did. Full of God’s Holy Spirit, we can draw upon God’s powerful word and overcome evil.
The Spirit of God is the power of resurrection that can work in us to transform us from glory into glory. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of all life who enlivens disciples of Jesus, enabling them to be as he was, fully human and glorious and it is for now, not some distant time. Your Kingdom come, your will be done as it is in heaven, now.
This is the resurrection glory that continues to transform the universe and it is for each and every one of us and can break into any moment, even this one. On this resurrection day, receive the Kingdom, draw close to the risen Christ, be filled with the Holy Spirit and experience life everlasting.
Christ is risen, he is risen indeed, hallelujah!
Risen Lord Jesus, you are glorious.
We, who are baptised into you, have also risen with you from the grave.
Empower us by your Holy Spirit to live as you did.
For the glory of the one who sends us out into all the world to share the wonder of your resurrection life.
For yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory.
Now and forever.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death?
Today we remember that Jesus was pronounced dead, was laid in a tomb and a stone was placed over the entrance.
Christians identify with Christ’ death and burial in the waters of baptism by being baptised into Christ. Being “In Christ” means that we are no longer “In Adam” and describes the most powerful transformation anyone can ever experience!
for as all die in Adam,
1 Corinthians 15:22
According to the scriptures, every human being is born into Adam which means that sin and death affects every one of us personally. Being “In Adam” is therefore a state of being – a category – which has a profound effect upon us. When Adam chose his own will over God’s, sin and death took hold of him and his offspring: overruling God’s will had catastrophic consequences for the whole of creation.
Being In Christ therefore indicates a category change, a change of allegiance, which happens when we are baptised into Christ. A Christian, as one who is now In Christ, joins him in his death. This step is vital because it indicates that we have died to sin, no longer bound by its power. Dying with Christ is an essential and necessary part of Christian discipleship, without it there is no hope of progress.
When we are baptised, we effectively lose the title In Adam and take on the new title In Christ. We disassociate with everything that Adam and old humanity stands for and associate with Christ, taking our place in the new humanity.
This saturday, we remember that Christ went down into the grave. We also try to identify with how the first disciples felt; confused and unsure about what tomorrow would bring. We also meditate upon the fact that being In Christ means that we are joined with him in his death and today lay with him in that stone tomb – dead to sin. In Christ is the most important place to be, it is our only hope.
PrayerLord Jesus, you died and were buried in a tomb.
We give you our allegiance.
We leave Adam and the old humanity behind.
You are our only hope and in you we trust.
All of them asked, “Are you, then, the Son of God?” He said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need?” We have heard it ourselves from his own lips!”
Luke 22: 70-71
Divine Sonship is the theme that runs throughout the baptism and temptation stories. When Jesus was brought in front of the Chief Priests and scribes they demanded to know if he was the Son of God. He did not deny it, yet again, neither did he confirm it, rather he said, “you say that I am.” This was all they needed to hear, Jesus had to die, the religious leaders had looked for an excuse to kill him for a long time and now they had their proof. Jesus had committed blasphemy.
As we meditate upon the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, his cruel and humiliating death, we realise that every day of his life had built towards this moment; his whole life had been a sacrifice of his will. His obedience to the will of the Father had led to the point where he sacrificed his life unto death, even death on the cross.
Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.
Luke 23: 46
Jesus’ last words were words of submission. It was Matthew who recalled the words of the Roman centurion and those who were close by who watched Jesus die. They said, “Surely this man was the Son of God.”
Throughout history, Christ’s disciples have claimed that Jesus is the Son of God. But that confession leads us to live in a certain way, to practice radical self denial on a daily basis.
Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.
Luke 9: 23
In the wilderness, Jesus showed us that to live for God means that we literally have to die to our own will every single day and choose to live according to the will of God. But dying in this way is not defeat. As the temptation narrative shows us, being obedient to God’s will is the path of true resistance! “Into your hands” is the prayer that we are called to pray, it is the prayer of the one who trusts God the Father in all matters of life and death. It was the prayer of Jesus and it must be ours too.
Jesus, you gave your life on a Roman cross.
You submitted your life completely to the Father’s will.
This is difficult for us to understand because very often we cannot bring ourselves to give ourselves in quite the same way.
Yet, this is what God the Father requires of his children, total obedience.
And so we ask for strength and courage to die today and everyday.
Into his hands we surrender everything, for he is good.
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Mark 1: 12-13
Mark spends two verses on the temptation story, blink and you almost miss it, yet what those words communicate is staggering in scope. Wilderness, forty days; this is the language of Israel being tested in the wilderness. Tempted by Satan, with wild beasts, ministering angels; this is the language that evokes memories of Eden and speaks of future glory.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
The prophets spoke about the messianic age as a time when the harmony between wild animals and humans, as it was in Eden, would be restored. The fact that Jesus was portrayed as being with wild beasts and ministering angels suggests the outcome of Satan’s temptation; whereas Adam gave into temptation, Jesus resisted. Mark’s temptation story pictures Jesus as the new Adam in a restored paradise. Jesus did what Adam failed to do, therefore, Jesus is the second Adam who shows us what it means to be fully human.
It was as one fully human, who went to pray in another garden. The temptation before him, to find an alternative way to overcome the power of sin. The anguish surrounding this decision caused Jesus to cry tears of blood.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.”
Temptation always comes down to this choice: our will or God’s. It was the choice before Adam and Eve, it was the choice before Jesus in the wilderness and in the Garden of Gethsemene, it continues to be our choice today. To follow Adam leads to death and a world ruined by sin because we continue to live according to our will not God’s. To follow Jesus leads to life in all its fullness and a world that comes alive due to the effect of our obedience to the will of God. The disciple of Jesus is the one who chooses life increasingly. Let it be so with you.
PrayerJesus, second Adam.
As you did, so let us choose the Father’s will in all things.
In order that the earth may be renewed and God’s glory be seen everywhere.
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.
The parallels between Jesus and Moses in the wilderness temptation are clear: both spent forty days in the wilderness without food and the themes of Exodus, God’s Law and Israel’s testing provide a backdrop to the temptation story, but the similarities do not end there. Both were born in extraordinary circumstances and miraculously delivered from slaughter, both were mediators of God’s Law, both fed multitudes with bread and both met in a moment of transfiguration.
And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.
Luke 9: 29-30
What happened next was significant: Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!” Luke 9: 35. Moses and Elijah disappeared and Jesus was left standing there; the glorious and authoritative Son of God. Jesus was not only portrayed in the Gospels as the second Moses – the one about whom Moses spoke in Deuteronomy 18 – but also as one who was greater than Moses.
Just before the first Exodus, the Israelites spread the blood of an unblemished lamb upon the lintels and door posts of their properties so that the angel of death would pass over their homes, sparing their firstborn sons. The yearly reenactment of that event, which happened as part of the feast of Passover, shaped Israel’s memory and identity as an Exodus people. The Gospel writers tell us that Jesus and his disciples prepared the Passover meal and celebrated the feast together in an upper room on the night that Jesus was betrayed.
The events of Christ’s Passion took place during the Passover festival and the Exodus provided the backdrop to what Christians have come to call Holy Week. The Gospel writers portray Jesus as the second Moses who began a new Exodus; liberating not only Israel, but creation from its enslavement to sin and death.
Jesus was and is the great liberator of humankind and leads a new Israel who are called to be obedient in the wilderness.
PrayerJesus, you are the great liberator of humankind.
As we recount the story of your Passion during this Holy Week, let us remember that the great Exodus that you began then still has the power to liberate us today.
May we experience your freedom in our lives and in the communities we live.
But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.
On more than one occassion, Jesus went to pray in the wilderness and other deserted places in order to restore his spirit, especially during intense times of ministry and before important events or decisions.
When we think about the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness being tested, it is natural to assume that this particular time was no different to others in that prayer was a significant part of the experience.
As we read what has come to be known as The Lord’s Prayer against the backdrop of Jesus being tested in the wilderness, it is evident that the prayer captures many of the themes highlighted during those forty days. Luke recalls that:
He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
This basic prayer, that has been elaborated on and extended over time, perfectly captures the temptation themes. God providing for our daily needs, God’s Kingdom being greater than the Kingdoms of the earth, calling on the Name of God for protection; stones, kingdoms, temple.
The Lord’s Prayer flows from Jesus’ lived experiences in the wilderness. The themes of his temptations, though in many ways unique to his status as the Son of God, resonate with us as those adopted into God’s family as children of God. Therefore, praying to God as Father, as Jesus did, should be a natural and regular practice. Praying the themes captured in the Lord’s Prayer will help to build resilient hearts and minds that can stand firm when testing comes.
In the same way that Jesus left the wilderness as the obedient Son of God who resisted temptation, let prayer also shape your heart and mind and build your resilience as one who is able to stand firm under trial. Prayer helps to form obedience, therefore, let constant prayer shape your responses to the trials that come your way as you rely upon God’s provision, look to God’s Kingdom and trust in God’s name.
PrayerFather, we trust in your name.
We look to your Kingdom.
We rely upon your provision.
To you be all glory, honour and power
In Jesus, many titles and identities are woven into one as various layers of meaning and significance are attributed to the things he did and said. It is important to recognise that titles are brought together in Jesus that were not necessarily expected to be carried by the same person or traditionally linked in Hebrew scriptures and other traditions. Matthew’s Gospel speaks of a moment of clarification when Jesus confirmed his identity to his disciples. He asked them:
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.
Matthew 16: 13-17
Messiah here can also be translated as the Christ, which means that the titles Son of Man, Messiah, Son of God and Christ came together in one person! Jesus confirmed this by claiming that it was his Father in heaven who revealed this truth to Peter. Although the wilderness temptations were primarily about testing the obedience of Jesus as the Son of God, there are more themes to explore, especially when you take into consideration the popular concepts of the Messiah within Judaism and the nature of the temptations themselves.
There were a number of groups in Jesus’ time who held differing views about how the Messiah would come and save Israel and bring God’s rule and reign throughout the whole earth. Some expected the Messiah to use his power to give the people what they needed most – their daily bread – and so would lead a revolution based upon popularity. Others expected a political messiah who would use glory and authority to build a military force that could overthrow the might of Rome. Yet others looked for a wonder working messiah who would compel people through miracles so that none could dispute his power. The wilderness can therefore be seen as a test to see what kind of messiah Jesus would be as the devil showed Jesus the different paths he might take based upon popular notions held at the time.
But Jesus defied messianic expectations and took things in an altogether different direction by refusing to conform to popular ideas. Instead, Jesus the Messiah was the humble servant who gave his life for others, refusing to use his power for his own gain and glory but to establish God’s Kingdom of justice and peace. This messiah had to walk a long road of obedience which culminated in his passion, death and resurrection.
Likewise, there are many expectations put upon us about what kind of person we should be or what kind of ministry we should have. We are tempted to conform to popular notions rather than conform to the will of God who has a purpose and plan for our lives that is as unique as we are. We are called like Peter to confess faith in Jesus and allow him to build his church upon that sure foundation.
PrayerJesus Son of the living God, Jesus the Messiah, we are amazed at your ability to confound popular expectations.
We confess that you are the Messiah, Son of the Living God.
Establish your strong church here, that serves the least and sacrifices all for your Kingdom as it continues to be established here on earth as it is in heaven.
Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
Matthew’s gospel adds a detail that Luke does not mention; after the devil left Jesus, Matthew tells us that suddenly angels came and waited on him. The moment the devil left, angels came. It was as if the whole of heaven had been watching the wilderness scene, as if every power in heaven wanted to back Jesus up, ready to surround him at a moments notice. However, Jesus had to face the devil on his own, as a man, a human, full of the Holy Spirit and armed with God’s word. If all of heaven had helped Jesus, then there would be no way that Jesus could have identified fully with temptation. Heaven had to remain silent, heaven had to remain at a distance.
But suddenly, the angels came to Jesus and waited upon him, no doubt giving him the bread he was earlier tempted to create for himself in order to stave off his hunger. However, it was God who provided it as a gift to satisfy his needs. They waited upon him as one who was authorised by the Father of all creation, Jesus the Son of God with authority over the Kingdom of God, after all angels were created to serve God. They waited upon him as instinctively as they would have caught him if he had fallen from the temple. Jesus was fed, served, protected and it was given, not forced.
After his baptism, Jesus was led into the desert to be tempted by the devil. At the end of the temptations angels tended to Jesus. Jesus then left the wilderness and began his ministry. Jesus was tempted throughout his ministry in many ways, but the most difficult test was the Passion. As we prepare to enter Holy Week we think of those moments before Jesus was betrayed by a friend when he prayed in the garden of Gethsemene. It was another time when Jesus’ obedience as the Son of God was tested to the absolute limit, when he struggled with the will of the Father. Walking the road to Calvary would require everything he had; his life surrendered completely to God’s will. It was another time when strength was required.
Then he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, knelt down, and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength.
Ministering angels attended to Jesus at key times in his ministry, at moments when strength and courage were required. Likewise, we should be aware that there will be times in our own journey when God will send angels to us who will strengthen us. The writer of the book of Hebrews says:
Are not all angels spirits in the divine service, sent to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
Be encouraged, when you live in obedience to God’s will, when you seek God’s Kingdom, when you are weakened and have been faithful, God will send what you need at the right time. For Jesus, after 40 days without food, it was straight after the devil left him. God will not abandon you for he is faithful.
Faithful God, we thank you that you sent angels to minister to Jesus after he was tempted by the devil.
As we live in obedience to your will, we trust that you too will send angels to minister to us at the right time.
When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Until tells us that the devil’s departure was not the end. The devil had been resisted, had departed, but had not been destroyed. Jesus would clash with the devil again.
In the wilderness, Jesus was physically weakened and exposed in that wild place; a perfect place and time for an attack. Throughout the gospel accounts we see various encounters with the Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus, continually asking him to provide a sign to validate his divine mission. Each time, Jesus refused to provide a sign but drew upon the word of God to answer them. You get the sense that Jesus was constantly on the lookout for likely places for confrontation; watching and praying, always mindful of God’s word.
There is a moment in the Pilgrims Progress just after Christian defeated the lion Apollyon.
He also sat down in that place to eat bread and to drink of the bottle that was given him a little before; so, being refreshed, he addressed himself to his journey with his sword drawn in his hand; for he said, ‘I know not but some other enemy may be at hand.’
John Bunyan, Pilgrim’s Progress.
There is wisdom in Christian’s words, often our greatest vulnerability is right after a moment of triumph and we must be vigilant lest we lower our guard and become vulnerable to further attack. The devil is an opportunist and looks for moments when your guard is down or you are distracted or not expecting an attack.
In another scene of temptation, at Gethsemene, Jesus takes his disciples with him to pray. The gospel writers tell us that Jesus found them fast asleep.
When he got up from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping because of grief, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not come into the time of trial.”
Luke 22: 45-46
Time of trial can also be translated into temptation. As disciples of Jesus, we must remain vigilant: ‘we must get up and pray’. The fact that the devil departed from Jesus until an opportune time draws our attention to the fact that the devil is always looking for opportunities to destroy humankind through temptation. Watch and pray, keep the word of God drawn in your heart and mind, that you may defend yourself at a moments notice, knowing that God’s word is powerful and effective.
Lord Jesus, there were many other times when you were tempted.
Thank you for teaching us to remain watchful and prayerful.
May we be mindful of your word, trusting in its power to fend off any attack that is meant for our destruction.
When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Jesus passed every test by overcoming the devil’s temptations with God’s word. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is attributed as saying: “Away with you, Satan! For it is written…” Jesus commanded the devil to leave him and the gospels tell us that he departed! In the Gospels, Satan and the devil are the same being, other names include accuser, slanderer, evil one and adversary. The devil is God’s archenemy and in the gospels was set upon destroying both Jesus and his ministry as well as his disciples.
The temptation story demonstrates that the devil is not omnipresent as God is by his Spirit. The devil inhabits specific places and moves around the earth. Although Jesus, as the obedient Son of God, effectively resisted the temptations, none of the gospel writers tell us that the devil was defeated. This is clear from the events that follow in all the gospel accounts. The battle was won, but the war raged on!
For the early church, the devil was still a very real enemy. James, the brother of Jesus, in his letter urged Christians to:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Today, the devil attempts to destroy Christians and the Church. One of his greatest tricks is to convince us that he is not real or has been destroyed completely and so is powerless. This is not the case and the Bible makes it clear that the devil will finally be defeated at the eschaton when Jesus returns.
Make no mistake, the devil want’s to destroy us and separate us from God’s love and life forever. Nevertheless, we must constantly remember the powerful truth conveyed by the writer of Romans.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8: 37-39
Like Jesus, submit yourself to God in all things. As you resist the devil with God’s word, be assured that he will flee. The battle is real, but God is with you and that makes all the difference.
Lord Jesus, you overcame the devil’s temptations with God’s truth.
Help us to know your truth deeply and may it set us free.
Make us wise to the devil’s schemes, that we might resist him and watch him flee.
Thank you that nothing can seperate us from your love; because of you.
Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
As with the other temptations, Jesus answered the devil with scripture. Jesus didn’t get into an elaborate conversation with the devil, he kept his responses short and to the point, relying upon the effective power of God’s word to do the talking.
Do not put The Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah.
What happened at Massah? Exodus 17 recounts the scene. The Israelites were thirsty and began to quarrel with Moses, “give us water to drink” they said. Moses replied, “why do you put the Lord to the test?” The Lord instructed Moses to strike a rock and water flowed out of it, satisfying their thirst. They called the place Massah which means testing. The scripture tells us that when they tested the Lord they asked the question: “is the Lord among us or not?” This was the very same question that the devil asked of Jesus: Is God with you or not?
When Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:16, he effectively referenced the story of the water from the rock. Once again, Jesus demonstrated how his own wilderness test was like that of Israel’s. However, where they failed by testing God, Jesus passed by refusing to put God to the test. He refused to throw himself down from the temple heights and prove to himself that he was indeed the Son of God – God’s word was enough.
Testing God is the very opposite of trusting God. To test God calls his very being into question. Jesus demonstrated both obedience and trust in the Father’s loving care. There is no need to test God.
During these wilderness days, pay attention to the things that cause you to grumble, become aware of the subtle and overt demands you make of God. Slow down and become sensitive to any attitudes that are similar to the Israelites at Massah. Like Jesus, refuse to test God and trust instead in his goodness.
Lord our God, we remember the scene at Massah.
Even when we thirst, keep us from grumbling.
Instead, help us to trust in you and refuse to put you to the test.
for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
The devil knows the scriptures too and used them to add weight to his argument: throw yourself down from here, for it is written. The devil quotes Psalm 91 which gives assurances of God’s protection to those who live in the shelter of the Most High; who make God their habitation.
Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place, no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
Psalm 91: 9-12
For is the word that is meant to provoke doubt in Jesus’ mind. To doubt that he was the Son of God. For, is the word that is meant to push Jesus over the edge.
The devil did not misquote scripture, rather he misused it by ignoring the context. In the context of the Psalm itself, there is a call to trust in the Lord to give protection in his own way and in his own time. In the wider context of scripture, other passages give shape to this protecting relationship and explain how to live in a trusting relationship with God. The devil was proof texting rather than conveying the heart of the text. When the devil misused scripture Jesus rebuked him with a counter text that showed how flimsy his argument was. Rather than convey scriptural truth, the devil used arguments that sounded true but actually distorted the very heart of scripture.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15
One of the greatest temptations is to use scripture to argue our point, to get our way, to manipulate events, by using scripture out of context. As disciples of Jesus, we too must learn how to handle the word of God effectively. We must learn to know the flow of the scriptures and how they work together. Jesus had lived with the scriptures every day of his life and embodied God’s word by obeying it. Jesus shows us the way of discipleship, live with God’s word until you know it truly.
Jesus, wisdom, word.
Give us insight and skill when handling your word
Give us perspective and clarity as we listen.
Guide us in our understanding, that we may perceive the heart of the text, the power of your truth.