July 1, 2011

You'll Need More Than A No.2 Pencil For This Test

How is Jesus' baptism related to his temptation?

First thing that I noticed about the baptism narrative is that it is in all the Gospels including John’s to a greater or lesser extent. When something is repeated in the Bible people should take note. The baptism is repeated four times and this type of repetition is the equivalent of a neon billboard sign...the size of Texas. The baptism is one of those kairos moments in the Bible.

Kairos / καιρός on the other hand is the opportune time. It is not merely succession of minutes, hours or days like chronos / χρόνος but rather the perfect time. As such there is no equivalent word in English. It is an appointed time. It is the time referred to in Ecclesiastes when the teacher or Qohelet says there is a "time" for everything. This is the same type of time referred to when dealing with kairos. A punctiliar time. A moment in time. Static. The exact moment. The precise moment. God's perfect timing. The "nick" in time.

Christ came for this specific moment in time. More specifically it is the end of His ministry or His death through crucifixion and resurrection that he comes for but the ministry that eventually leads Him there starts here in the Jordan with John the Baptist. This is then immediately followed by being driven into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test. When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.  ~Luke 4:1-13

In terms of the Jesus' temptation, it is not in John. Notably it is not in John. I am not sure why it wouldn’t be as John deals with the light and the dark all throughout its chapters. But it is conspicuously absent...(more on my theory about this in another post).

Secondly, Jesus is first baptized into His ministry. He is immediately (as Mark will say) driven into the desert/wilderness by the Holy Spirit and tested physically and mentally. He is driven to one of the lowest and strenuous levels that He will face until the Crucifixion. I suppose this is done to find out exactly what kind of servant leader and king/prophet/priest that this God man will be for His people. What type of character a person is truly made of comes out under duress. These tests are to see if He will waver in His assurance given at the Baptism. We see that Jesus passes the temptations/tests with flying colors. He uses a combination of Scriptural backing and His own authority to wave off the Devil’s enticements. If Jesus is driven by the Spirit I have to conclude that this test is to show Jesus’ right to claim this ministry, authority and “street cred” and it is initiated by none other than God Himself since it wasn’t the Devil that drove Him to the wilderness.

It is my experience that God does nothing accidentally. This is clearly worded as a “test” [πειράζω / peirazo] which comes from the stem [πεῖρα / peira] which means trial in the Greek. This test was to show others something not just a “temptation” for Jesus Himself. In other words, Jesus is being tempted here because he can still be subject to human foibles and human weaknesses - yet not give in. God also knew that the world didn’t know Jesus' ability to resist temptation...so it is put on display here. God was allowing His son to be tested to show others that this God-man was indeed the One with the authority and “street cred” to thump the Devil all the way back to his hole and back again. Jesus also showed something else in this episode. Jesus could've easily rebuked the Devil of His own authority or the Father's but what did He do? He quoted Scripture and used what we would consider the Old Testament to shut that deadbeat down. Not only is this temptation on display to show Jesus' "street cred" it is also to show that Jesus used the same thing we too can use to rebuke evil and deceptive ideas/philosophies: Scriputre! Yeah, that dusty thing that sits on your nightstand with the gilded edges! Sweeeeet! So no, you do not need to perform miracles, walk on water, use incantations or rituals to keep the Devil and his slugs at bay. My advise to you is to talk about the Gospel or the Good News as much as possible keeping it out in front of you as a reminder for you, as an invitation to onlookers and as a battering ram for evil. Keep it in you as spiritual sustenance and divine nourishment.

The temptation appears to be a strength /deformation test to see if Jesus can be pushed far enough in His human state to either bend of break under the pressure and enticement to sin. As we can see, Jesus is unbendable unless He wanted to bend or be broken. In the end no one takes His life, He gives it up, but not before living a sinless life. You would've needed more than a No. 2 pencil for this test, you would've needed to by fully human and fully divine and only one person in history fit that description.

The temptations are specifically temptations of the flesh (Gk: sarx) or things that are of the world or appeal to the senses that can be appealed to in this world system.

Stones to Bread - Lust of the Flesh
See all Kingdoms - Lust of the Eyes
Save life Spectacularly - Pride of Life.

These three temptations parallel the temptations in Eden with Eve and Adam. Of course we see Jesus pass this test after 40 days in a near starvation state. Just as we see Adam and Eve fail it in perfect conditions.

Specifically these tests put forth by Satan appeal to the senses of mankind. God was showing what Hebrews 4:15 asserts:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.”  Hebrews 4:15

As stated before we see Jesus dispatch that loathsome dirtbag with ease. God succeeds in two counts during this single string of tests. He shows beyond a doubt that He is up to the task before Him and although He is man…He is no ordinary man as we will see in the following 3 years of His ministry.

Oh, one more things. Please take careful not to the last verse in ths unit Luke 4:13. What does it say? It says:

"When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time." ~Luke 4:13

The devil basically had his teeth kicked in and two black eyes here (maybe more, how many eyes does he really have?). Jesus had given the Devil a sound whoopin' and smackdown. This did not deter the Devil. He waited for another opportune time. He waited for other moments of weakness or windows where conditions best suit messing with Jesus. If he did this to our Savior you are absolutely a target for His infernal rage. The Devil kept coming at Jesus all through His ministry especially during His arrest, persecuation and Crucifixion. This must serve as a warning to us. The Devil is like Cool Hand Luke here. He will take the beating and refuse to stay down even though he is beaten. He was beaten at the Cross by a divine KO (knockout). This did not stop him from coming after us ever since. He will do so. Until we are fully in Christ we will fall victim to Satan's ploys and tricks. We must absolutely realize that our strength to win is not of our own devices...they are Christ's...and they are in the Word.

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