February 17, 2002

Matthew 4:1-11

Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: "Since you are God's Son, speak the word that will turn these stones into loaves of bread."

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: "It takes more than bread to stay alive. it takes a steady stream of words from God's mouth."

For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, "Since you are God's Son, jump." The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: "He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won't so much as stub your toe on a stone."

Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: "Don't you dare test the Lord your God."

For the third test, the Devil took him on the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth's kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, "They're yours--lock, stock, and barrel. just go down on your knees and worship me, and they're yours."

Jesus' refusal was curt: "Beat it, Satan!" He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: "Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness."

The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus' needs.

<The Message >


1. Where is the "wild" these days. We might find today's testing arena to be the marketplace. How do we turn speculation in profit? The temptation is to pull an Enron. Who could stand against that temptation in today's capitalistic environment?

2. Want real safety, security and protection? Why wait upon those iffy angels when a handy-dandy antimissile defense is available to spend tax dollars on. We claim no one will get through that shield. Well, discounting airplanes, germs, shoes, and sheer desperately wielded fingernails. Trying to keep from stubbing a toe is one of the greatest of stubs. Crucifixion happens.

3. Who wouldn't want to be acclaimed Number One? The difficulty is that of a sense of entitlement to such status. Unfortunately, to try to claim all earth's kingdoms as one's own presumes the impetus of history can be stopped, like the sun in the sky could be stopped. There is not a static Number One and to think otherwise is to fool oneself and Jesus goes into life with his eyes open. Will we do the same?

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