August 29, 2013

Scripture and Commentary Friday after Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity

Morning – Psalm 32, 2 Sam. 15:30-16:4, 2 Cor. 5:1-10
Evening - Psalm 22, Mt. 4:1-11

Commentary, Matthew 4:1-11

Commentary, Matthew 4:1-11

Most of us have probably read or heard how the temptations of Christ urged Him to reject the mission of the Messiah and take up an easier method of pleasing the people and uniting Israel.  In short, they all tempted Him to reject the cross and become a popular folk hero.  The temptation to turn the stone to bread was really about trusting His own power rather than trusting God.  It tempted Jesus to break the rules and make supernatural exemptions for Himself rather than depending on the Father for His daily bread as ordinary humans have to do.

The temptation to cast Himself down from the Temple pinnacle was a temptation to force God to protect Him and openly show Him as the Messiah.  In the last temptation, the devil says He will give the kingdoms of the world to Christ if He will worship Satan.  Jesus came to save people.  As ruler of the world He could end wars promote justice and prosperity, and accomplish great good on earth, all without having to go to the cross.  But Jesus recognized the devils tricks, and banished him from His presence.

Many of us may not realize that Jesus had to participate fully in the human condition to be our Saviour.  He had to empty Himself of His special knowledge and privileges, and live like people live.  He had to be subject to parents who made mistakes, and whose mistakes caused Him sorrow.  He had to be potty trained, learn to talk, and face the frustrations and temptations of life, just like the rest of us.  Otherwise the crucifixion would have been a farce, like Otis locking himself in the Mayberry jail with the keys in easy reach.  Christ had to learn to live by faith.  He had to learn to trust God in every situation, just like we do, by faith in God, not through our own powers.  The temptations urged Jesus to use His power to exempt Himself from real humanity, from the sufferings and problems and fears real people face every day.  When Jesus refused to yield to the temptations, He chose to experience life as we experience it.  Having lived as we live, by faith, He became the perfect guide to us in our troubles.  He faced the same ones, in faith, and overcame them.  Having lived as we live, by faith, and having overcome temptation, He was uniquely qualified to be the sacrifice for our sins.

Thus, the temptations were absolutely necessary to the ministry of Christ the Messiah.  To exempt Himself from them would have been to rely on His own Divine power, rather than to live by faith like a man.  Had He used His divine power to exempt Himself from the human condition, He would have been unfit to be the Saviour.