In his book, For the love of God, Don A Carson said, “What we do not need is an arrogant “can do” mentality that tacks God onto the end, or a clichéd spirituality that confuses passion with passivity; what we do need is the power of the sovereign, transforming God.”
Jesus had just been baptized by John and on coming out of the water, the Heavens opened and the Spirit of God descended like a dove that alighted on Jesus; and a voice from Heaven thundered upon the terrestrial, unknown to any mortal and without prior experience of such. It was a voice from the heart of Heaven, it was one from the celestial; it was the voice of God endorsing His one and only begotten Son, Jesus. He said, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. In other words, God made it clear to planet earth that Jesus is His Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life. These were words that assured Jesus of His identity here on earth. These were the words that would carry Him through His ministry even in the face of persecution, tribulation and eventually, death.
One would expect that after such a worthy endorsement and appellation before Heaven and mankind, Jesus would start to live a blissful and hitch-free life filled with all goodness. The reverse was the case; He was opened up as He got to that crescendo, only to find out His life will take the downward trend until he got to that place where He thought God had forsaken Him. The Bible records that, He was immediately driven into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. He was introduced to Mr. Satan/Devil and the question would be, why move from one extreme to another extreme; why move from that auspicious moment from and with God to the wilderness where He met with Mr. Satan.
The order in these intriguing experiences is such that Jesus is loved, affirmed and empowered by God and soon, He’s ushered into the presence of the evil one by the Spirit of God. In the life of the believer, it’s the same, we are loved by God; empowered and affirmed by the same God and what follows is evil, temptation, wilderness, terrible hunger and thirst. No one is exempt from trials and tribulations. This is what happens when you resolve to walk with God; it is part of God’s plan in building, making and turning us into something great.
As hard as we try, no matter what deterrents we take, no matter how well things are going, no matter the joy and blessing; even the most talented, savvy and diligent believers cannot escape the ripples of life. In this story, the Christian of today in the shoes of Jesus and because we’ve been wrongly indoctrinated, would have started to pray or look for what he/she did wrong to warrant this temptation. Here we are, Jesus could not sin neither did He have it in Him to sin. So what went wrong? Rather than look at what God is doing, we turn to ourselves in retrospect thinking we have missed one step or the other in the so many steps we have been taught or the confessions we didn’t remember to take.
Based on the above, we silently take credit for doing this and that when there are no challenges or sufferings; we never deem it as love or grace but think it’s because we are living and obeying what the good book says. If this were the case, then Jesus’ story would be a paradox because He lived an exemplary life, didn’t sin but His life went from one degree of pain to another without rest. The temptation in the wilderness marked the beginning of His life of pain as we see a steady progression of rejection, betrayal, grief, poverty, torture, oppression and His eventual death where He was nailed to the cross at Calvary. It was like everything went wrong for Him after Heaven endorsed Him.
To believe in the simplistic idea that moral goodness will result in a good life without trials, tribulation or persecution is to be in error and more so a simplistic understanding of God’s purposes for our lives.
He met with the Devil in the desert (please don’t forget that it was after His endorsement that the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness). In the desert, there will be no food to eat, nor water to drink and Jesus scarcely knew how long He would spend in this wilderness plus He had already been without food for forty days and forty nights, meaning there was hunger and the want for food. The Devil knew all this and was waiting for Him so that he (the Devil) could use His desires to lure Him into displeasing God.
Mr. Devil fired the first shot at Him; he said to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, tell these rocks to become bread.” In other words, you are not God’s Son if you cannot turn these stones into bread. But Jesus knew He was the Son of God; besides God had just announced to the whole world that Jesus is His son in whom He’s well pleased. So, we see here that Mr. Devil is trying to distort what Jesus already knew in His mind. Eating bread was more like a bait into destroying what Jesus knew. Jesus was hungry and Mr. Devil tried to use the hunger to make Jesus loose the sense of His identity. This sounds like Esau who for a morsel of bread, lost his birthright to Jacob and never regained it. Esau was hungry after a hard days job and here was Jacob waiting for his brother with a bowl of pottage, knowing how hungry his brother would be.
We have been educated wrongly by teachings that say we need God to do one or two things physically as demonstrations of His love towards us. Do we need to be healed before we know God loves us; do we need to be financially prosperous as a proof of God’s love; do we need to stay married and not divorced as a proof of the love of God? Certainly not, it takes more than the desires we have to know that God has not changed His mind about us. This is the way mankind would always think. NO MATTER WHAT THE SITUATION OR THE CHALLENGE IS, GOD LOVES YOU. He is not like man – who would always change his mind at the stroke of differing circumstances.
God does not have to say YES to my prayers to convince me that He loves, cares and is pleased with me because of the resurrection from the dead!
Jesus said to the devil that, “It takes more than bread to stay alive; it takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth to stay alive.” Rephrasing, God already said I am His beloved, and that cannot be taken away from me; I don’t need to prove it to you that He loves me, He already does; even if I die in this hunger, that wouldn’t change the personality and the essence of God (I am His beloved, like He said). Daniel said, “And even if God does not save him from the den of lions, he still wouldn’t bow to King Nebuchadnezzar.
“Every one of us ought to remember that a great deal of that commodity in this world known by the name of “good works” is not good works at all. What is a good work? I should venture to say that, anything that has in it the element of selfishness is not good. You may question that, but I think it is the highest virtue to be unselfish. If a man be found to be virtuous, as we say, with the design of benefiting himself, has he not spoiled his virtue?” – C H Spurgeon.