A few years back I was asked to lead a short devotional for work and the section assigned to me was Matthew 4:5-7, the second temptation of Christ. As I read through Matthew 4, I wondered why I could not have been given the first or third temptation. I understand the temptation of food like in the first temptation. It stares me in the eyes every time I walk into the grocery store. And I understand the desire for power, wealth, fame, like in the third temptation. Pride is a sin I struggle with more than I would like to admit. However, the second temptation, jumping from the highest point of a temple, or in Colorado maybe something like a mountain, is something that has never enticed me with it’s sweet siren song.
How was I going to share about this when I could not even connect to it. Yet as I studied, I began to hear the melody that Satan was singing in these words. I began to realize that he was tempting Jesus with complete protection from harm. Jesus was facing the most heavy, dark, painful task every known in this world and Satan swoops in with the temptation of testing to see if God would be protector.
It was like in the old cartoons. BAM! SMACK! BOOM!
Um, maybe I could relate more to this temptation than I thought. In fact, maybe I could relate to this more than any of the others. Move over chocolate, move over Hollywood star. The safety bunker has taken your place as king of temptation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, having a saftey bunker filled with chocolate and a Hollywood star would be the trifecta, but if I had to choose one, give me the safety bunker.
The fact that Christ withstood this temptation sends my mind into a freenzy and reiterates to me that he was fully God, not just fully man. Here was Jesus, with life headed towards brutal torture and mocking, an excruciating walk while bearing the load of his own crucifix on his whipped back, and an agonizing criminal’s punishment that lead him to being separated from God the father and ultimately die carrying the weight of all sins ever. I would be begging for protection in this. In fact, I do beg for it and am begging for it. And from things much, much smaller than this.
If I had to wrap up this year in one word, it would be jump. And let’s be real, I am not being asked to jump off the highest point of a mountain. But even though my jump is significantly smaller than Christ’s, what I crave more than anything else is protection. Protection from struggle, from pain, from sadness, from loss. And not just for me, but for my family. But the truth is, The Lord has asked me to jump in faith without giving me the promise of protection.
So I have jumped. And now I am in a free fall.
Many days I find myself thinking, “what the heck have I just done” and looking for any possibility of a ripcord to bail out. But then I remember what caused me to jump in the first place; his character, his love, and his promise of life abundantly (John 10). So I try to change my perspective. I read things like Isaiah 25: 7-9
“On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
and Isaiah 26: 3-4
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD is the Rock eternal.”
and instead of begging for protection I beg that as I free fall he will keep my mind set on him and my eyes locked in on his. I would imagine that is the only way Jesus could resist such a temptation. And if it worked for him, surely it is the balm for me.