Today I saw the temptation of Jesus in the desert through a new set of glasses. When I’ve looked at this Scripture in the past and most recently, there are many lenses in which to understand the temptations.
- Through the lens of the Old Testament – There are no less than 13 hints of OT texts in 11 verses.
- Through the lens of the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. Because it isn’t hard to see these.
- The lens of identity – “If you are the Son of God…”
- The lens of power – ‘If you are the Son, then through yourself down,” “make bread,” etc…
- Through the lens of memorized Scripture.
But today I finally feel like the lens that Matthew attended was revealed to me. It’s the lens of love.
Because of the chapters and headlines that were introduced to the Scriptures in the 1500’s, it’s easy for us to disconnect one chapter to the next. But today I saw it.
In his baptism the Father has a rather dramatic declaration for Jesus – “You are my Son whom I love, with you I am well-pleased” (ch 3). Then Jesus is thrust out into the energy-sapping desert where he was tempted the whole 40 days, culminating in some rather severe temptations at the end (ch 4). Now connect the two chapters and you begin to see.
What were the temptations revolving around? God’s love. When we are tested we begin to doubt God’s love and pleasure over us. If you are God, why am I suffering like this? If you love me, why aren’t you doing something? Have I done something wrong that I am displeasing to you? It’s why God declared his love to him right before he went into this most difficult time.
Through this lens we read the temptations differently.
Temptation #1 – Turn stones to bread.
In other words, if God loves you he won’t mind if you use your power to serve yourself rather than others. You’re hungry after all.
Temptation #2 – Throw yourself down from the hill and the angels will protect you.
Jesus, prove that God loves you.
Temptation #3 – Worship me and I’ll give you the kingdom of the world.
If God loved you, you wouldn’t need to go to the cross. You can rule the kingdoms of the world.
Every difficult season tests whether we truly believe that God loves us and is pleased with us. If we are rooted in his love and pleasure for us we will not compromise our values. Doubt this and our foundations will crumble.