Welcome to Friday’s Podcast. Our reading today is Matthew 4: 1-17 but today we’ll focus on verses 1-2:
‘Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights he was hungry…’
Is Covid19 a time of testing?
Yes, I believe it is. I don’t believe God sent it. But I do believe he’ll use it.
Times of testing aren’t pleasant but they can be really powerful.
Jesus goes through a time of testing. In fact it’s 40 days without food. It’s 40 days alone. It would have been incredibly challenging. We all go through seasons when where we’re tested. Sometimes it’s clear that God is in it – sometimes it’s not clear and sometimes it’s just downright infuriating.
God uses testing seasons from time to time e.g. The people of God were tested in the desert. Deuteronomy 8:1-5 tells us what God’s purpose was for the Israelites during their 40 years in the desert. It says in verse 2: ‘to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart…’ This same challenge is placed before Jesus. The desert is a hot & harsh environment – all comforts are stripped away. For Jesus, he was totally reliant on God his Father to meet his needs. That’s hugely vulnerable. The desert was actually a really dangerous place to be – you could die easily from exposure through to vulnerable to attack from thieves. But this idea of testing we know from various Bible characters deserts are often the places that God uses to prepare people.
Next Monday sees a change in the Government’s lockdown policy – it means that you might not get to see your wider family for a while or hang out with your friends. That’s a challenge.
So, while testing is used by God to grow character we need to be careful in those times not to give into temptation.
Here’s the distinction. Testing grows character. Temptation can cause us to stumble.
The devil tries to tempt Jesus.
He waits for him to be at his weakest point – his lowest ebb and then in such a subtle way asks a leading question… and the first two temptations start like this ‘if you are….’ And the final one says ‘I’ll give you all this…’
It’s said that those temptations relate to our appetites (physical: food but also things like money, sex and power); approval – what people think of us – whether we’re held in high esteem or not and finally ambition. Three things that if we think about them can trip us up.
I’ve heard it taught that we’re most vulnerable to temptation when we’re Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired – HALT.
It seems a bit trite but it’s really true.
I even heard a Christian psychologist say recently – that even if we’re dehydrated it can cause a chemical inbalance in the brain.
We need to remain hopeful that God will use this crazy season for his good. But we need to make sure that we’re committed to being healthy. What I mean is that being self aware: knowing our hunger levels; dealing with our anger – if we’re lonely connecting with friends where we can and checking our tiredness levels. All these things can make resisting temptation even harder.
The only point at which Jesus engages with the devil is when he quotes scripture at him.
Yes we need to stay hydrated. Yes we need to stay healthy. Yes we need to care for our emotional health throughout this season but without wanting to sound cheesy – that Jesus tackles the devil head on by quoting scripture. And while I don’t want to heap guilt on people during what is a challenging time – at some point we’re going to have to admit that biblical illiteracy is problem. And it’s not a problem that is going to get better – unless we unpack it.
Whether we like or not – Jesus battles the devil – with the scriptures.
As we journey this next season as a church – we’ll need to draw close to the Lord. To each other with a deep hunger in our heart for Jesus and also for his word.
What habits can you take up this lockdown that will help you walk with the Lord?
Help us Lord to navigate this season well! That we may hunger for your word, which will help us as we face temptations. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Matthew 4:1-17
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”