Friday, August 14, 2009

Wonder-Working Power

Did you even wonder what it would mean to be tempted... if you were God? I was reading in Matthew 4 recently of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness for forty days and started thinking about it.

First, I can only imagine what kind of crisis of mind and emotion and spirit would cause me to spend over a month in a hot, windy, sandy wilderness in the first place. Add to that, abstinence from food and drink for the whole time, and I can't imagine what agony of conviction I would have to be in to keep me there for that long! I think I would have given up after a few days in the hope I could pick up where I'd left off after a shower and a meal. Imagine the most intensely difficult time you've been through; the time when you were in such conflict of mind and spirit that you could only fall before God and pray. Then imagine that lasting for forty days! Jesus, as a human with all of our emotions and feelings, knew all about it!

Jesus was every bit human and, although He was perfect, He had to learn obedience (Heb.5). He had to go through all the stages of human development. Theologians debate whether or not He fully knew He was God throughout His life, but it's my opinion, judging from the way He spoke, that, even if He did, it was not a perfect and complete understanding of all things at all times. He was completely reliant on the Spirit and the revelation of what His Father wanted Him to do.

In the wilderness, Satan appealed to His human realization of the tremendous power He had as the true God in human form. Satan tempted Him to use this power to satisfy His own [good and natural] desires, to take over the world, and to perform feats of the miraculous, without the Spirit's prompting, in order to 'show off'.

He had the power to do each of these things., but He knew He must wait for His Father's timing. He could have provided food to satisfy His hunger (did He not later provide food, miraculously, for 5.000? I wonder if He remembered His earlier temptation and laughed in the devil's face!). He could have drawn many to Him with the miraculous feat of jumping off a high place and not being hurt. Could He not have reasonably decided on His own that such a display of power would draw people to Him so He could preach to them? But it was not His Father's way or time. He had to wait until His Father told Him to use His power to heal with compassion, deliver from bondage, and provide for those in despair. He could have used His power to amass an army, and take over the government of the area (think of any such event in history organized by a clever and capable man, if any of them could do it, Jesus certainly could have!). He could have then helped so many as a wise and kind ruler! But again, He waited for His Father's timing.

Are you and I in such close communion with this same Father that we will stand fast through temptation even if it will be a forty day battle in a physical wilderness? Do we trust Him enough and know His voice well enough that we can wait for His timing and follow His guidance moment by moment?

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