What Jesus' Endurance through Testing Means for You
(Matthew 4:1-4) What the testing of Jesus means for those facing testing of their own. Plus, some super cool connections to Deuteronomy!
Last week we explored parts of Deuteronomy, especially the famous Shema: “Hear, O Israel…”
Today, let’s savor a passage which quotes Deuteronomy and shows Christ’s humanity…
When I think of the word “temptation,” My imagination flips to the scene in the animated Aladdin where Abu caves-in to his desires and touches the forbidden treasure.
That’s how we typically see temptation. A wrong desire leads to wrong action, and choice results in a negative consequences.
In the Bible, the Greek word for temptation is peirazō (you can do a deep, nerdy dive into the word here).
Peirazō can carry positive and negative nuances. Regardless of the meaning, it seems to strengthen the character of the one being tested if they do so without faltering.
Most importantly, peirazō does not automatically assign guilt, evil intentions, or sin to the one being tested.
With that in mind, read today’s dab of Scripture Sauce with a fresh take…
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted [peirazō] 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.'"
Matthew 4:1-4 (NIV)
Straight to the Gut
I love the understatement there: “he was hungry.” If I had only fasted for half that time, I’d probably be missing an arm! 🤤
The “testing” of Jesus is so crucial to understanding not only His holy character, but also how He stood-in for Israel (and all humanity).
Note the connections to the Torah, especially Deuteronomy…
- Jesus fasted 40 days and 40 nights in a deserted place like Moses, who spent 40 days in the presence of God atop Mt. Sinai.
- Israel “tempted” (should read “tested”) God for 40 years in the wilderness with complaining and idolatry. Jesus’s 40 days of testing is a microcosm of this, showing the Son of God standing in their place and coming out the other side victorious.
- God provided miraculous bread for His people for 40 years. After Jesus’s 40 days of fasting, the first test Satan (or “the adversary”) throws at Jesus is to create bread on His own rather than to rely on the Father. Interestingly, Jesus could have created bread from rocks if He wanted. Instead, He threw Deuteronomy 8:3 at the tempter’s face.
He’s in Your Corner…
Let this amazing dab of Scripture grant you rest and peace. You have a “faithful High Priest” who knows humanity, hunger and all.
For me, I have to lean into the strength of Christ more than my own. I tend to feel defeated quickly sometimes, but my Lord here stuck it out for 40 days without faltering.
Whether we find ourselves trudging in a desert or strolling through a garden, we have the Son of God who gives us His strength.
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