How’s everyone doing this Lenten season? Did anyone give anything up? I’m doing my usual. I’m trying to give up negativity. It sounds easy but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried. My secret weapons are smiling and breathing. You know why? When I commit to those two acts it always leads me to God. It clears my World-infected head.
How about your identity? Would you ever give that up? Can the devil tempt you to give that up? Maybe you already have.
Let’s dive into our Gospel (Luke 4:1-13) and see what God has to say about that.
Jesus just enjoyed the human experience of the blessing of His Baptism. The “Son of Man” “The Lamb of God” takes on His responsibility. The Hebrew word for this is “Mitzvah.” Our religious duty to God.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus to the Wilderness. This is where Jesus is to prepare for His ministry. I feel the temptations were an added bonus for us. Because God wouldn’t lead God to a place in order to be tempted. Jesus is now on a 3-year mission. To boldly go where No Man or God has gone before.
This is an important revelation for us. Jesus is revealed as “True God” and “True Man.” Satan is revealed as the adversary to God’s plan. Satan is in many ways like us. Satan likes to pretend he is large and in charge, but he is as lost and confused as we may often feel. Especially when we neglect our “Mitzvah.”
We shut off God and we forget about His Holy Word. The problem in a nutshell is that we often forget about God. And that is when we disobey God. We have our own plan. We are children of the World not His Word.
We love God. How would we react to seeing God as a man in the wilderness? Would you feel bad for Jesus? How would he look?
Many picture a man suffering but I picture a man in authority as Adam always should have been. As we all should be. The 40 days may have made an impact in His weight, but I feel His determination and focus never wavered.
Satan goes for his tried and true attack based upon his history of a single victory. His victory over man. Attack the appetite. The weakness of our flesh. Jesus does what Adam and Israel could not. He resisted the temptation of food. Life is more than just provision. It was also symbolic of God not giving up on His people. The Jewish people do come first. Jesus fulfilling the role of the Jewish Messiah.
I actually picture this scene with Jesus sitting next to an altar One He has built with 12 stones. God’s memorial to His people. 12 always being the common symbol.
12 stones in Aaron’s breastplate – A memorial to the eternal. Represented the unified people before God. Priest represented the people. Elijah used 12 stones to build an altar – A united people of God. 12 tribes in unity showing hope in the future. Joshua used 12 stones to build an altar – Memorial of Gods promise of the Holy Land – a sign for future generations.
Let’s look at an aspect of Jesus’ identity. Jesus is the bread of life. The word He uses is the word for raised bread. “Leaven” bread. An eternal loaf or cake of bread.
This brings me to the shewbread in the temple. The shewbread (bread of His Presence, bread of The Faces of God) consists of 12 cakes of “leaven” bread in the temple. In this case the leaven signifies Continual, Eternal Bread filled with the Holy Spirit. Considered the most desirable bread. Many will argue as to whether or not this was “leavened” bread. I’d like to point out that these breads are never referred to as “matzah.” “Matzah” or “unleavened” bread was made to be placed on the altar and to be used as a fire offering to the Lord.
The shewbread was not an offering to God but represented God and was made to be eaten by the Priests. So they would be filled with His Holy Spirit. Unleavened bread is the bread of Affliction. The bread of sacrifice. This was the Bread of God’s generosity.
The bread of promise. Bread was shaped as an open “ark.” Showing that God’s presence cannot be contained. His presence is out of the Ark of the Covenant.
The priest eats the bread not God. Give us this day or daily bread because we are in the presence of God. Fellowship. Relationship. The bear witness of God’s love. Spread the Gospel of the Bread of Life.
With the showbread the priests were commanded to give a drink offering to the Lord. Bread and Wine to celebrate God’s Eternal Love.
In my mind, Satan wants Jesus to turn the 12 stones into the 12 loaves of the Shewbread and to eat of it which would symbolize Jesus giving up His identity as God.
Jesus then patiently allows Satan to bring Him to the top of the temple. And ask Him to leap off. Again, Satan tries to separate God the Son (in the form of a human Jesus) from His Divine Purpose.
God’s people are to focus on trusting God. To dwell in the shelter of the Most High. It is not for God to deviate from His plan. God is already here for His people. He does not need to reveal this for there to be “true faith.” This temptation is the equivalent of asking Jesus to step down from the cross. To save Himself. Jesus in His answer reveals He is God and it is Satan who fell from on high.
Lastly, Satan offers Jesus a position as King of this world. Satan is A “ruler of this world” in the sense that fallen, weak men succumb to the wages of sin, “death.” During the time of “Great Tribulation,” Satan will be allowed “limited” power for a “limited” time. Until the second coming of Jesus. Adam was given commission to rule over this world. It is man’s responsibility to care for creation. This is our “Mitzvah”.
Another reason why Jesus had to be 100% man and 100% God. The only 200% being who ever existed. Satan doesn’t understand what he is offering. Jesus points this out to the fallen angel.
Man was to be King of this World. The “Son of Man” takes back that role. The role of King of this World. Jesus is pointing out that the ultimate rule is in God’s hands. Jesus is the Master of the Universe and the King of this World. He understands our pain and weakness.
He defeats the Devil. He breaks the chains of sin. He takes on the sin of the world, our sins.
All Satan demonstrated here was his own weakness. Satan reveals NOT what Jesus left behind in heaven but what Satan lost by being cast out of heaven. The very things Jesus has WON. And He won them for us. With an example of His Perfect Human obedience.!!
In the movie, “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Jesus says, “To conquer death you only have to die.” The cross if the path to the crown.
My point is that Jesus was always in charge. We may not understand it. A fallen angel may not understand it. But God and the Devil are real. And for us they are both revealed by these temptations.
Here’s the example for us. Abusive people want control over your person and identity. You have something they want. Targets of abusive people are usually independent, skilled, emotionally intelligent, altruistic, intelligent and well-loved. They want that from you. As if by hurting you then can become the parts of you they actually are jealous of.
In a situation with someone like this, if you cannot remove yourself from the situation then be still, turn to God, pray and trust.
Do not let abusive people define you. Understand them for who they are. Know the battlefield. Know your enemy. Know yourself. (Know yourself – a baptized child of God, which gives you what you need – to do battle. New life New self in Christ)
Solution: Cling to the Word over the World! In the end, Jesus already won ALL of your battles for you!!!