Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Colonnade and shops in Bath, England

Monday, October 3, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Oct 4, Mt4, Lk 4-5

Today's readings are Mt 4 and Lk 4-5. Tomorrow's are Jn 2-4.

Mt 4's description of the temptation of Christ covers three areas of typical human weakness, all of them based on self-centeredness. The temptation to turn stone into bread hits on two levels - first as a draw to be self-satisfying and second as attempt to be self-sustaining. Both function apart from God, denying that He is the One who satisfies, He is the One who sustains.

The temptation for Christ to throw Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple was a temptation to try God and also a temptation to distort Scripture to serve one's own ego. We are told not to test God in any way other than in the area of giving (Ma 3:10). Yet, many have a desire for God to prove Himself to them as if they are the standard by which God will be affirmed. The desire to test God is actually a desire to have authority over Him. In many ways, the temptation to distort Scripture for our own self-interests is similar. Using God’s word to elevate ourselves and make ourselves the object of attention or the recipients of His glory is never a good idea.

The temptation to worship Satan in order to acquire power and influence is nothing more than a temptation to make oneself into God.

In reality, these are the same temptations Adam and Eve fell victim to. Jesus refuses to succumb to any of them. In doing so, Jesus is undoing the impact of the fall, gaining victory over the consequences of Adam’s sin. He is doing what Adam was unable to do, fulfilling His role as the second Adam and doing it all by simply quoting the word of God.

As Jesus resumes His ministry in Lk 4-5, He teaches in a synagogue. The people are skeptical. In response, Jesus cites Scripture that shows God has ministered to and through Gentiles (Zarephath and Naaman) in the past, particularly when the Jews have been rebellious. The Jews reject this teaching. Ironically, they become rebellious just as their ancestors did, a dark portent of what is to come.

Later, in Lk 4, Jesus demonstrates His standing as the second Adam again, as He did in Mt 4. In this instance, He exhibits authority -  over the spiritual realm by casting out demons and over the physical realm by healing the sick and cleansing the unclean.

He also exhibits His standing as the Son of God by calling followers unto Himself, taking normal, sinful people and transforming them into His disciples. What Jesus does with this initially small group of men is a hint of what He's come to do for all those who call Him “Lord.” He transforms and redeems. This is further emphasized when as He is healing a man, He also forgives the man of his sins. The man is not only made physically well, but he is healed spiritually as well.

Here, early in His ministry, Jesus is laying the groundwork and providing the evidence for who He is and what He's come to do. He's going to redeem mankind from the curse of the fall. God, Himself, has come to earth to do what Adam could not do, what man cannot do -- save himself.

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