Monday, 2 November 2015

Daily Reading: Luke 4v1-13 'The Battle for Sonship'

One of the first things to look at if you want to understand a text is the context. What are the big ideas in the passages around it and do they appear in it? It is important because chapter breaks, the sections and their headings were not written by Luke, and while mostly helpful, sometimes they are not.

So what are the big ideas in Luke 1-3? Look back at 1:30-33; Gabriel tells Mary that she will have a child who will be the “Son of the Most High”. Look at 2:11. Who do the angels say has been born? “a Saviour…the Messiah and Lord.” Turn to 3:22 as Jesus is baptised what does God declare about him? “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”  And what follows is Jesus genealogy which ends “the Son of God.” Do you see the big theme – Jesus is the Son of God. Look at the next section and Jesus reads from Isaiah about the Servant of the Lord sits down and says (21) it’s me.

Having looked at context and big idea, does anything stand out? The issue is over Jesus identity as God’s Son and mission as Saviour and Messiah (3, 8, 9). This passage is not here primarily as a 3 step guide on how to face temptation, it is here primarily so that Theophilus, and we looking over his shoulder, understand that Jesus is God’s perfect Son on God’s mission.

Why does it matter? Because Jesus represents humanity. (38) Jesus is God’s Son but he is also Adam’s Son, he stands where Adam stood as he faces temptation. He also stands where Israel, God’s adopted son stood, having crossed the Jordan and gone into the wilderness. Will he continue to be God’s perfect Son, will God be able to say of him “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” at the end of this battle, this test?

This is a conflict of global and eternal significance as Jesus is led to face the devil by the spirit, to dedicate and set himself for God and his purposes.  Each of the three temptations is a test or a challenge – will he be the perfect Son of God or not? Each poses the question; do you trust God, have you come to do his will, will you fulfil his plan and the mission you have been given? Just as with Adam and Eve in the Garden and with Israel in the desert the question is will he trust God, his plan, protection and word? Will he succeed where they fail?

Jesus is God’s perfect Son, Saviour and Messiah because he:

1. Trusts God’s care

What do you do when you’re hungry? We go to the cupboard and get something to eat. Well Jesus has been fasting for 40 days and he is hungry (2). The devil attacks at the point of Jesus need, “If you are the son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  It seems a reasonable challenge, its not as if making the stone bread is as significant as raising the dead, or walking on water, or forgiving sins. So why doesn’t Jesus do it? Why doesn’t he prove who he is?

The devil doesn’t ask because he doesn’t know, he asks because he wants Jesus to doubt God. The challenge here is made clearer in Jesus reply (4) “People do not live by bread alone.” The devil is seeking to raise doubts about God’s provision and care, just as he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden, just as happened with Israel in the wilderness.  ‘Look God has led you here and left you without food for 40 days, you can’t trust him to provide for you, look out for yourself, why not do it what would be so wrong?’ But Jesus’ reply shows what would be wrong and that he will trust in God, his word, his guidance and his care - that he will provide all that his Son needs. Jesus knows God and his word; the quote is from Deut 8 and reads “people do not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

God’s perfect son will not doubt his Father’s care, leading and provision. He is God’s Son, Lord and Messiah.

2. Trusts God’s way

The second test (5-7) is to take the easy way out. The devil shows Jesus the world and promises it is his if he will just worship him. Jesus has nothing and the devil offers him everything. It’s a shortcut, all this will be Jesus’, but the devil is offering it without going God’s way.

‘Look at what God has planned for you; it is the way of the cross, rejection, hatred, betrayal, denial, isolation, and death, why not take the easy way out? All of this is going to be yours any way but I can give it to you now, why wait, why suffer? All you have to do is swap sides? Why have rejection and suffering when I can give you glory?’

But (8) Jesus is resolved that he will “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” And what does worship look like? It is giving himself totally to God, life as a sacrifice of praise to God. Even in the face of hatred, rejection, betrayal, isolation and death, it means choosing the way of the cross.  Jesus will trust God’s plan and go God’s way as he lives for God’s glory not his comfort. He is God’s perfect Son.

3. Trusts God’s word

What is different about this temptation? The devil uses scripture, but the challenge is also unbelief masquerading as belief. It looks at first as if casting himself off the temple would be a sign of faith in God, after all doesn’t God promise to save him.  But (12) Jesus sees this for what it is. By throwing himself down he would not be trusting God but needing proof that God would do what he said, he’d be testing God, and he’d be doing it because he needs to prove God’s word. That is not trusting God’s word and Jesus trusts his Father’s word.

(3:22) God has declared that Jesus is his son whom he loves with whom he is pleased and Jesus will trust that word. He does not need to test or prove because he trusts what God has said.  In every temptation Jesus proves himself to be exactly what God said he was; he is God’s perfect Son, he is the saviour, Lord and Messiah. He is the perfect representative who unlike Adam or Israel sets himself to worship God as he goes God’s way, trusting his Father’s way, word and provision.

Do you see the three marks of the Son of God? He trusts God’s care, way and word. This incident declares that Jesus is God’s Son who passes the test and has come to represent humanity, the question is will I trust him? Do I recognise him as that? Will I trust him and live my life for him? Recognising I can’t do it myself.
Trusting God’s care, way and word are characteristics that mark out Jesus life but which he will also call his followers to share in. Notice (13) that this is not a once for all battle, so it is with us, the devil will keep trying to make us question God’s care, way and word. It is a lifelong battle for Jesus and for us, a sign that we follow him.

Maybe today you find yourself questioning God’s care. Maybe in the area of material possessions, money is tight, and the question that arises is - does God care?  I think we need to be honest with ourselves; sometimes the problem is not that we lack our daily bread but that we lack a 50” TV, a Playstation 3, a Lexus, and Rolex, all the things the world tells us we deserve, all the things our neighbours have, or our friends children have.

And we need to resist the devil’s voice that tells us we need the bigger TV, or whatever else it is. Sometimes our needs are supplied, it’s our consumer created wants and the lifestyle that we aspire to that is not and we confuse the two.

But there can be genuine needs and the temptation is to find a way to provide for ourselves rather than trust God’s care. I could earn double time if I worked on a Sunday rather than come to church. God hasn’t provided me with a partner and I’ve waited for a believer and it hasn’t happened so I will find one myself. Each of them is a temptation to doubt God’s care. The big question is will we trust our Father’s care? Jesus shows us that we can.

Maybe it is the pressures of life that are posing the questions; can I trust God’s way? Work is hard and you are under pressure, and home, well, it’s not exactly an escape is it, and then you see everyone else and their life seems so much better than yours. And you find yourself crying out: God what are you doing? If you loved me then why is this happening? Are you even there?

God never promises it will be easy, following Christ means taking the way of the cross. It means worshipping him as you live through the struggles not with a Teflon coat or false joy but with the cry ‘Father I don’t know why but I know you love me because of Jesus and I know nothing is outside your control and I will trust you.’

Jesus is God’s perfect Son he trusts his Father’s care, way and word. That trust means he chooses the way of the cross for us, he shows us that obedience matters not comfort.

There is a danger, I don’t know about you but I often fail when tested, and I could go away this morning feeling guilty but be reassured this morning our salvation is not performance related. Jesus represents us, he lives perfectly for us, he passes the tests for us because he knows we will fail them so often. He saves us from our failure and the guilt attached to it, but he also calls us to do battle and become more like him, to follow in his footsteps. To know his Father as our Father and to trust him who gave his perfect son for us. And he gives us his Spirit just as Jesus has here and we need to pray for God’s help because we can’t do it ourselves.

No comments: