Lenten Reflections 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 20

Day 20, Thursday, March 15, 2012

In the third temptation of Jesus (please read Matthew 4:8-10 and Luke 4:5-8), the devil showed Him the glory and splendor ofThe Temptation of Christ (detail 6) the kingdoms of the world and then revealed his inmost desire—to be worshiped as God or to become God. From the beginning, the Bible describes Satan telling lies to humanity about God and about becoming God. He wants to be God and falsely promises others to make them into gods. Satan also offers shortcuts and easy options in life.

In the Garden of Eden, he told Adam and Eve subtle lies that they “will not die” and that they “will be like God” (Genesis 3:4-5, RSV). Satan knew that Jesus was on earth in order to establish His kingdom and to be the King. So, he offered Him a shortcut saying something like this, “Look, you don’t have to really go through all this suffering, you don’t have to really die a cruel death on the cross to establish your kingdom and to be recognized as the King of the world. I’ll offer you all that if only you would bow down and worship me!” However, as we have seen earlier, Jesus knew Satan’s lies and knew that His kingdom was not of this world. He preached about the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s why, later on, Jesus reminded His disciples the true nature of Satan who “has nothing to do with truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 RSV). Unfortunately, throughout history far too many people have fallen prey to the devil’s lies and deception. Adam and Eve surely did thus leading humanity into sin. However, Jesus Christ commanded Satan to leave by quoting the first of the Ten Commandments from the Word of God (Matthew 4:10, see Deuteronomy 6:13; Exodus 20:3-4). And the devil left him.

 But now, there are so many lies and deceptions that Satan still continues to spread even in the church and through the so-called Christian preachers. There are millions of Christians today that live believing his lies and being deceived continuously. He continuous to promise the worldly stuff, power, and positions to people and many fall for it. So, how can you and I stand firm in our faith in the midst of lies, deception, and deceit being persistently projected into our homes through all kinds of media, including the Christian ones? If there is one thing we can take home from Jesus’ temptation, it is this: be well-grounded in the Word of God. Study the Word, properly, systematically, and thoroughly. There is no dearth of biblical resources and tools at our disposal these days, but there is no replacement for a personal time spent in the Word of God for ourselves. And then complement it with prayer asking the help of the Holy Spirit to live daily by Word . Amen.

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Lenten Reflections 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 19

Day 19, Wednesday, March 14, 2012

 Through the second temptation, the devil asked Jesus to take a leap of faith (Matthew 4: 5-7) to prove that He indeed was the Messiah. In reality, devil’s agenda was to kill Jesus before His perfect time so that he could thwart God’s mission in and through Jesus Christ. In refusing to comply with Satan’s deception, Jesus showed us that He would not put the Father to test by jumping off the pinnacle of the temple, but He would rather obey the Father by going to the cross.

Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem.

Via Dolorosa, Jerusalem

 Jesus knew that He had come to die for the salvation of humanity. He was also fully aware that the way of the cross was not an easy one. But He also trusted His Father completely in that He would not keep Him in the grave forever, but He would deliver Him through death, by raising Him from the dead. Here, Jesus was presented an opportunity to choose an easy way out, to get away from the impending life of misery, insult, rejection, capture by His own people, being led as a worst kind of criminal on the way to Golgotha, and finally to be brutally crucified by the Romans. In this temptation, once again, Satan wished Jesus to act independently of God’s will for Him, which was the way of the cross. Thank God for Jesus who chose that path of suffering and death so that you and I could be free from sin today. However, we need to remember that perhaps God’s desire for us may also be that we go through pain and suffering in our lives during our wilderness experience. Satan will certainly show us other options and easy way out of God’s will. There are many false prosperity-gospel preachers that will confidently teach that God’s will for you is to only prosper in every possible way. There are many who believe that Christianity is the easiest religion of just grace and forgiveness. But when faced with such temptations, we need to recall how Jesus acted and chose the way of the cross. And after He came out victoriously from His temptations, He warned us: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7: 13-14 NIV). May we choose to the narrow way—the Jesus’ way—and find eternal life. Amen.