If you are reading up on Irish Stone Age history, you will come across the burial mounds that were built before the Pyramids. One of these, at Newgrange, has a special window above the door that catches the light of the winter solstice and directs it into the central burial chamber. On the shortest day of the year, light besieges the dark places. Hope on the bleakest day. I wonder what the ancient peoples thought about life after death.
The power to live after death takes a lot of the threat away. I am getting that sense from Matthew 4 as I open a new chapter of inductive study. This passage opens on Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. I feel like you could sketch in a few tumbleweeds and creaking boards and have a good western showdown. The rivals come nose to nose. The ultimatum is delivered, “If you are the Son of God,” cock head and raise eyebrow, “it can’t be hard to change stones into bread.”
Wah wah wah….
And Jesus parries with a strike of Scripture, “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
I am still delving into the context of these verses, but the power of Jesus’ ability to resist temptation is amazing throughout this showdown with the Tempter. And after He leaves the wilderness, Jesus begins to move! His ministry began. He picked up John’s message, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” began calling His disciples, and healed throughout the land of Israel. Rather than accept Satan’s offer of gaining the world in exchange for worshiping the bad guy, Jesus brought news of a different kingdom – one that God would command. And He was dynamic, helping people in very real ways emotionally, spiritually, physically. That’s power. And since we know the end of the story, we know He was not afraid of death’s sting (1 Corinthians 15). That changed how He lived. It is like Matthew 4:16 says,
“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death Light has dawned.”
God, thank You for the power of Light over darkness, and how Jesus lived that way rather than just dying that way. Please help me to learn to trust You in dark places, where temptation is much easier and seems more straight-forward in my short-term view. Thank You for the power of Your Word, and please help me to use it.Thank You for Your light that can penetrate the darkest places on the worst days! To Your glory, Amen.