Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Would you be tempted?

Another post generated from a discussion with my son.  We were doing his (our?) devotion for the night.  The subject was temptation.  As we started on the activity part, we had to read Matthew 4:1-11:

The Temptation of Jesus

4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’


“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

The activity was asking what were the three things Jesus was tempted with.  So the first item was the temptation of food via the challenge to turn the stones into bread.  The second item was the challenge to jump/fall from the temple and let God's angels rescue Jesus.  The third was the temptation to "own" all the kingdoms of the world.

As we discussed the passage, the first one was pretty easy to understand once we looked at it in context - Jesus was starving from being in the desert for 40 days.  Of course food would be a temptation.  The second one was a little harder for my son to grasp (and me to explain).  I'm pretty sure I could develop something around the idea of not putting the Lord to the test.  But for now, something a little more in reach was appropriate.  In the story, Jesus is challenged to jump off the temple, which would be dangerous.  So, we decided the temptation could be summed up as safety - against physical harm.  The third temptation took us back to something a little easier - the temptation of all the riches in the world.

My son seemed to understand it much better when we had it reduced down to these three things - food, safety, and riches.  And as we look around the world today, we decided that it would be pretty easy to see how people would be tempted down a path of sin if they knew their food, safety, or some riches would be provided.  No doubt lots of people have probably sold their soul or some part of it for at least one, if not two or three, of these.  I'm not so sure that perhaps most(all?) of us let our worries and concerns about one of these three cause us to think we need to do something to ensure them rather than trusting in the Lord.  But then, that's probably at least part of what makes all us of sinners.

Are you being tempted by the promise of food, safety, or riches?

Shifting gears somewhat, my son told me tonight that he had finished reading the entire book of Matthew!  He doesn't know it, but I have both of us on a path to reading the entire New Testament.  Having gotten through that one book probably puts him into a somewhat select group.  I'm proud of him for completing that first stage.

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