“I wanna be like you!” You said it way back when. You’ve felt excited and terrified when someone said it about you. But do you have role models now?
I have aspirations…so maybe role models. Getting there. Being a Christian, I know that Jesus is a great role model. But not as the cheesy guy on Sunday School papers. The dude who took on Satan in a power showdown.
Matthew 4 – Jesus has been anointed by the Spirit. No one had loudspeakers, but a booming voice from heaven just said that Jesus was His Son, and pleasing to Him. It was a moment where I would muster my best marketing skills and start preaching. Instead, Jesus is led out into the wilderness by the Spirit.
He fasts forty days and forty nights (forty minutes is enough to tip me over to hangry some days!). And then Jesus, as the text wryly puts it, is hungry. So in walks the Tempter to go a few rounds.
Jesus responds to each temptation – for food, for glory, for power – by quoting Scripture. Okay, seems to be powerful…where’d He get this great knowledge from?
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” – quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3
“It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” – quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16
“Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” – quoted from Deuteronomy 6:13
Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Torah written by Moses. He probably memorized verses from it as a kid.
So I got to thinking – why did Jesus use these verses, out of all the cool stuff He could have quoted?
- They are rock-solid promises.
- They are ones that everyone would be familiar with.
- They were ingrained.
I have a good knowledge of my Bible for the most part, so I sometimes worry about how I will come across to people who wonder how Abraham is related to Moses. Jesus had the chance here to show off His stuff, but He chose to use ideas that children would know. These were texts that He could remember while He was starving. They were ones others could use. And when He told His disciples about it (they were not there to know what happened), He showed them how to oppose the tempter. It was not a bad reminder of who the real power comes from, either.
After this, Jesus began preaching and calling His twelve core disciples. The war was still going with Satan, and He was ready to train His recruits. But He started by humbly realizing His limitations as a man, and leaning on God for His power.
God, thank You for this example of humility. In the worst struggle, Jesus showed that the strongest promises will still win. And those are Your promises. He believed them, lived them, quoted them, even though they were written thousands of years before He was born. And You worked through that. Please help me to humble myself and rely on You, not my own strength. When I am weak, You are strong! To You be the glory in my life, Amen.