Temptation From Satan
February 10, 2008
日本キリスト教団 頌栄教会牧師 清弘剛生 Pastor Takao Kiyohiro, Shoei Church, Church of Christ, Japan
Translator M.A.F., Indiana, USA
1. In today's second [scripture] reading The Epistle To The Hebrews was read. The following exhortation was given from that text. "So now, since Jesus the son of God, the great high priest who has passed through various heavens, has been given to us, shall we not steadfastly hold on to the faith which we express publicly? This high priest is not someone who does not sympathize with our weaknesses, he has not sinned but on all points he has encountered temptations just as we have. Therefore, in order to receive mercy, share in grace, and receive help appropriate to the occasion, shall we not approach the throne of grace boldly?," (Hebrews 4:14-16).
2. Jesus stated that he encountered trials just like we do. The phrase "to encounter trials" is found in today's gospel reading. But, in The Gospel According To Matthew it is not translated as "to encounter trials" but as "to undergo temptations." Christ underwent temptations from Satan while in the wilderness. You could say that it was s special temptation he had received as the messiah. But, if you go by The Epistle To The Hebrews those three temptations are also temptations which he had received "just like we [get them]."
Humans Do Not Live By Bread Alone
3. Satan said to the Lord Jesus, "Since you are the son of God, how about commanding that these stones be turned to bread?," (verse three). This is the first temptation.
4. If it were a temptation of "If you're hungry, steal the bread," then from most anybody's view it would look like "a diabolical" temptation. But, does the command to turn stones to bread look so wrong? Even if he had changed one or two rocks into bread to eat, it wouldn't bother a soul. Nobody would mind, would they? Yet, the scripture teaches that this is a temptation from the devil. We ought not to think that Satan turns up doing devilish things. Temptations from Satan can very much be summed up in the question, "Why can't you do this?"
5. In what way is this a temptation from Satan? Jesus had seen in it some kind of temptation. We can see that through what Jesus said as he rejected Satan. The Lord answered as follows. "It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone. He lives by each and every word that comes from the mouth of God.'," (verse four). In short, Jesus saw the temptation from Satan as his trying to separate humankind from the truth that "Man lives by each and every word that comes from the mouth of God."
6. "Try commanding that the stones be turned to bread. You will need a little bread. You'll want some of it." Satan was whispering [that to him]. Of course, if he were talking to us, Satan would definitely have used different words. He wouldn't say, "Try commanding that the stones be turned to bread." That's because if it were Jesus he could do it, but we can't. But he does most definitely come onto us talking about things we can do. "If it's something you need, grab a hold of it. Take command of what you want. You know how to get what you want, so why not go ahead and make it happen? You want it. Go for it."
7. When you're hungry, you want some bread. When you feel a shortage in life, you will want something to satisfy it. When you're about to die from hunger, you certainly crave bread to the point of dying for it. In the same way, there may be something we want in life so much we're dying. We'd do just about anything to get what we want. Satan stirs up these kinds of thoughts of ours, saying, "Get what you want." And then [you] can get it pretty much fine. Just as it was extremely easy for Jesus to get bread.
8. But then while getting our hands on what we want, we will get to feeling that the getting of what we want is the very nature of human life. We will get to the point that we think that there is meaning in living [a life] for the very acquisition of the stuff we desire. But, that is false. A human being does not live by bread alone. [A person] lives by each and every word that comes from the mouth of God. Human life does not [consist] in the getting of what we want. Human life [consists], indeed, in the hearing of the word of God. Human life is, indeed, in the listening to the will of God and fulfilling that which God desires; for, it is God who gives us life, who gives purpose to our lives. What truly grants life to a person is God, the word of God.
9. "How about commanding that these stones be turned to bread?" Jesus must have grasped it not merely as a temptation having to do with his own hunger, but a temptation from Satan that extends to all humankind. Therefore, the Lord rejected the devil by saying, "It is written, 'Man does not live by bread alone. He lives by each and every word that comes from the mouth of God.'," (verse four).
You Must Not Test The Lord Your God
10. Next Satan had Jesus stand at the highest point on the temple roof and said, "Since you are the son of God, how about jumping down? It is written, 'God will command the angels on your behalf, the angels will support you with their hands, so that your foot does not hit against a stone.'," (verse six).
11. Even this temptation did not look completely diabolical and devilish on its surface. God will surely keep you safe. That's what he was saying. What's more he even said that while quoting scripture. He said, "That's written in the Bible, you know," and he looks just like a devout Christian, doesn't he? But, it is telling us that even in places like that, it is possible for there to be temptations from Satan. It seems that at times the devil will make a move on us through very pious sounding words in which he has cited scriptures.
12. Where in the pious sounding words of Satan did Jesus see the temptation? We will find it in what Jesus said in rejecting the devil. Jesus answered him as follows. "It is written, 'You must not try the Lord your God.'," (verse seven). Jesus saw in it the temptation "to try the Lord."
13. What does it mean "to try the Lord?" It means "to test the Lord." [It is] the angle where the human being is doing the testing. [It is] the angle where God is [the one] being tested. [It is] the angle where the human being is doing the questioning. [It is] the angle where God is being questioned [and held accountable]. The human being decides what is a success or a failure. A human being decides if it is worth believing or not. It means that.
14. Today's first reading was the story of when the people of Israel "had tried the Lord," (Exodus 17:1-7). The Israelites, who were journeying through the wilderness under the command of Moses, had made camp in Rephidim, but they did not have any drinking water there. Whereupon, the people say to Moses, "Give us drinking water." Saying "Give us drinking water" in a place where no water was gushing forth from anywhere was something really idiotic to say. In effect, they were saying, "Since you are saying that God is with us, then produce [some] water through a miracle from God." If he produces water, it would be a success. We'll believe both you and God from here on. We'll obey you from now on. That's what they meant.
15. At that time Moses said, "Why do you strive with me? Why do you try the Lord?" Moses meant by that, "You're way wrong." It is not God who should be called into account and questioned, but human beings. At the very moments of their destitution human beings will be held accountable and questioned as per their faith. Are you really living in trust upon God come what may? Will you believe and obey? The ones who were supposed to be on the side to be questioned were the Israelites.
16. Human beings doing the testing; God being tested. That is clearly not an honest-to-goodness relationship between God and a man or a woman. The relationship between God the Father that Jesus has shown us was permeated all over with trust in love and obedience, wasn't it? Even though it was a path that went straight to a cross, the Lord still kept walking to it with trust and obedience unto the Lord, didn't he? This Jesus [the way he was] was able to see [something though]. [He could see] the temptation that turns people into testers of God and tries to keep them far from being what they ought to be as someone in fellowship with God. Jesus must have grasped the fact that this is a temptation from Satan that extends to all humanity. Therefore, Jesus rejected the devil by saying, "You must not test the Lord your God."
Worship The Lord And Serve Only The Lord!
17. In addition, the devil had led the Lord Jesus to a very high mountain, then showed him all the nations of the world and their prosperity, and said, "If you bow down to worship me, I will give you all this," (verse nine). This seems like it might be easy to understand, that it is the most apparently devilish of all the three temptations. But, we must understand from the words with which he rejects Satan the kind of temptation Jesus was seeing in that statement. The Lord replied with "Withdraw, Satan. It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only the Lord.'," (verse ten).
18. It was Deuteronomy chapter six and verse thirteen that Jesus had quoted. If [we] quote it including the context, the following words are written there in the text. "Be careful never to forget the Lord who led you out from the nation of Egypt, the house of slavery. Fear the Lord your God, serve only the Lord, and make vows by his name. You must not follow after other gods, the gods of the various neighboring nations," (Deuteronomy 6:13-15). In short, what Jesus quoted was not originally words that said, "Don't worship the devil."
19. To begin with, not many people have worshipped the devil [directly] as a devil. As a matter of fact, when [we] look at the history of Israel, there wasn't anything like devil worship. No one tried to get a hold of prosperity by deliberately selling his or her soul to the devil or even by turning their hands to evil. However, even though people did not have [religious] intentions like that, there are times when people have bowed the knee and worshipped the devil unawares. [So,] how did Israel end up getting that way? It was by worshipping the god Baal, the harvest god who promises prosperity. It was by seeking the god who would give them just prosperity and good fortune and not by seeking the God worthy of obedience and trust, the God who speaks to [us] and guides [us]. It is not the Lord God, but the devil who says, "It'll be fine. Let me give you all these things," when human beings do not fear and bow down before the Lord, but first seek after the fulfillment of their own prosperity and desires.
20. Jesus must have grasped the fact that this was a temptation that extends to all humanity. Therefore, Jesus said, "Withdraw, Satan. It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only the Lord.'," and he rejected the devil.
21. We live by the word of God, we trust in the Lord on all counts, we worship only the Lord God, and we serve the Lord. We must realize that the devil wages his general offensives against [us] by trying to break apart and destroy this day to day faith life of ours. However, we don't need to fear for nothing because the One who encountered testings and temptations like we do, the One who rejected the devil, the One who obtained perfect victory against the devil during his life and while on the cross is with us. "This high priest is not someone who does not sympathize with our weaknesses, he has not sinned but on all points he has encountered temptations just as we have. Therefore, in order to receive mercy, share in grace, and receive help appropriate to the occasion, shall we not approach the throne of grace boldly?"