Today’s Scrip-Bit 6 March 2019 Matthew 4:1.

Matthew 4:1.   ​Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
 

Well friends, the ole fella is up much earlier than he would have liked, but that’s because I have to go into the city to check on this ole heart of mine, to keep the appointment I missed during the big snow storm last week. And since I don’t want leave you all bereft of spiritual succour for too long, (smile) I had to get up earlier to write the Bit and get out on time. Last week it was an afternoon appointment, so I had time to palaver, but this week it’s in the morning. That’s how much the ole fella cares about you! Glory to God! 

So what shall we talk about this Wednesday morning, this Ash Wednesday morning, when all the frivolities and sinfulness of Carnival finish eh? I don’t have a clue! (smile) Hope those of you who participated in the festivities, wherever in the world, had a good time and didn’t go too much overboard and thus give the enemy some ungodly purchase in your souls, because it’s very easy to do that when you let your hair down, as so many of us do, at Carnival time. 

But now it’s the season of Lent in the Christian calendar; forty days and forty nights, a reflection of Jesus forty days and nights in the wilderness before He began His ministry and was tempted by Satan, but stood strong in His resolve to do the Father’s work. It’s a time where we hopefully get more spiritual, contemplate the things of God more, get into Bible Studies and spend more serious time with God. 

It’s when fasting and praying and self-examination become a larger part of our lives. The popular action is to give up things we enjoy for Lent. I don’t know if it really makes a difference to most of us, who just do it because it’s the norm, but if it helps to bring us closer to God, then so be it. Now let’s look at what happened to Jesus in the wilderness and how He handled it all. 

The Good Book says: ‘Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.’ 

And the scholars have a long, involved explanation which I’ll share. ‘4:1. Following His public baptism, Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness referring to the elevation of the Judean wilderness. The historical setting of the temptation, which was directed against Jesus’ human nature, indicates that this was a literal experience, which He really conquered, not merely a mental victory over His own thoughts. 

That Jesus was tempted of the devil is clearly presented as a fact. The attack against Christ’s humanity was a genuine temptation that would have overcome any ordinary man. However, Jesus was no mere man. As the virgin-born God-man, His divine nature could not sin (cf. 1 Sam.15:29), and this held His human nature in check. Some have objected that the impeccability of Christ (that He was not able to sin) denies the reality of Satan’s temptation. 

Such an objection is meaningless when one remembers that Satan’s rebellion against God has already been defeated in Christ’s atonement, but his rebellion is nevertheless real, even though the outcome of God’s victory is certain. The same is true of the temptation of Christ. One may attack a battleship with a canoe. The outcome of the attack will be certain defeat for the canoe, but the attack is nonetheless real.’ 

Yes my fellow believers, Jesus was indeed tempted of the devil, but did not succumb to that temptation, as the Good Book tells us. ‘And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungered (hungry). And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ (Matt.4:2-4) 

Yes my people, that temptation was real, and Jesus was there quoting Moses’ words of Deut.8:3, where he reminded the Israelites how the Lord humbled them in the wilderness and made them eat manna so that they could know that He was God, and that bread was not the most important thing in their lives, but His Word. As the scholars put it: ‘The source of bread, is more important than the bread itself.’ Oh so true my fellow believers! 

Before we close today though, I want to share some more of the scholars’ insight into Jesus fasting. ‘4:2-3. Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights, a remarkable feat of human endurance, indicating the physical strength of the former carpenter. While the three major tests followed this period, other tests evidently had occurred throughout the 40 days (Luke 4:2). 

His real physical hunger serves as the setting for the first temptation by the tempter (Satan). The conditional clause, If thou be the Son of God, indicates Matthew’s purpose for including this record of Jesus’ victory: it proves that He is, in fact, the Son of God.’ 

Yes friends, He was indeed the Son of God, and Satan knew this to be a fact, that’s why He tried to break down His hungry human nature with the temptation of bread, knowing that a great victory would be his if Jesus succumbed. But instead Jesus stood strong and steadfast and rebuked the enemy and won the victory! All praise and honour to our wonderful Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! 

Now friends, it’s our turn to stand strong and steadfast against the evil enemy! We don’t naturally have all the parts and power that Jesus had, but He’s faithfully promised that through His Holy Spirit, He will empower us to rebuke the tempter when He comes a calling in our earthly lives. And He’ll do just that if we sincerely turn to Him for help! 

Now let’s go home declaring (steups – wrong again) our Wednesday Wail, letting all and sundry know our wonderful position in Christ Jesus! Wailing as one now: ‘Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: I’m so glad to be alive on this Wednesday! Wednesday, Wednesday, Wednesday: Thank God the breath of life is still flowing through me on this Wednesday! 

I am halfway home. My hands are fixed securely on the plough, and I’m not turning back. I’m not looking back at the past, not focusing on what has gone before. But my eyes are fixed straight ahead; straight ahead to a glorious future with Jesus. Glory Hallelujah!’ 

Ah mih people, it will indeed be so very wonderful in those future times, that our finite minds can’t even begin to comprehend it! Think on it, and let Jesus warm the cockles of our hearts this Ash Wednesday morning! Much LOVE!

…Lent…a time of personal introspection…and a closer look at the kingdom of God…

 

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