Christ spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. At the end of his fast the devil appears and attempts to lead Christ into temptations. Matthew records three temptations: first, he tempts the Lord to give in to his hunger and turn stones to bread. A predictable temptation considering the circumstances. Failing at this the devil then suggests that the Lord cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple to see just how far God will go to protect his son. Both these temptations and the Lord’s responses are worth contemplation but I’d like to focus on how satan phrases these two temptations.
In both cases the devil begins with “If thou be the Son of God.” We know that as Christ grew he “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:52). It is reasonable, I think, to consider that Christ may have learned of his true identity during this 40 day preparation (though we are not told that directly). Yet, Christ did not just show up a fully formed man endowed with all the wisdom and power of God. He grew from a baby to a boy complete with skinned knees and bouts of the flu. He learned by study and by faith and little by little his mission, purpose and identity was revealed to him. That He did this says something about the worth of the human experience.
If during these 40 days of communion with God Jesus comes to the complete realisation of his divinity it comes as no shock that satan’s first task would be to try and cause Him to doubt that. “If thou be the Son of God…”
As I’ve contemplated the teachings of Christ these past 24 days I’ve learned something about me and about you. We were worth the sacrifice of a God but more than that the Son of God. Knowing that Christ endured the human experience and therefore there is value and worth to this journey what might we conclude about ourselves? As I’ve written these posts I’ve been reminded that we are all children of God. Paul writes:
The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Romans 8: 16-18
The whisperings of satan to the Lord “if thou be the Son of God…” is the same temptation we must endure. The world would have you believe we are just another mammal wandering an insignificant sphere in a currently immeasurable universe. That “life’ s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.” — (Shakespeare). Don’t believe it.
When your fasting and study and growth brings you to the realisation that you are a child of God do not give in to the incessant clamour of the world that you are insignificant. It simply is not true. And if you have resisted that temptation I encourage you to reread satan’s third temptation for the saviour; it may give you a clue as to what is coming next.