CMC Eps 9 – MATTHEW 4: 5-11 – JUMP
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MATTHEW 4: 1-4 – THE TEST
Hi.. I’m Gene Ort.. and you’re listening to the common man commentary.
This is podcast #9.. We will be looking at MATTHEW 4:5-11 . .. The Title for this podcast is : JUMP
In podcast 8, we left Jesus in mid conversation with Satan.. They were discussing food, a preoccupation of all humans, myself included. With the corona virus still haunting the world, food is on the minds of nearly everyone. It stands to reason that satan would speak to a basic human need as a primary form of temptation. Jesus counters by identifying a much higher need of humans : to receive a steady stream of Word’s from God’s mouth, the truest bread of life.
Quoting now.. Matthew 4:5 .. “For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City, Jerusalem. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.” Here is an early clue that scripture can and is being used as a weapon to attack the children of God. Without the wisdom that comes from that “steady stream of word’s from God’s mouth,” you are subject to all kinds of misinterpretation, misunderstanding misinformation and manipulation.
Satan.. still fishing .. does some sort of transportation magic which i am guessing is common to other realms outside earths normal limitations. Maybe it’s a glimpse of the way things will be. The test, yet another identity challenge and this time he quotes scripture right back at Jesus and takes him to church ! Now thats interesting, kinda funny and a little disturbing. Somehow you just don’t think of that being the next great temptation.. No substances to abuse or self medicate with.. no women to objectify.. no casino.. Just a dare on a really high ledge of a church and a bible verse.
There is a very strong religious element to this test. The verse, pulled from Psalm 91 proclaims that if you make The Lord your refuge.. than nothing will ever go wrong for you. The entire Psalm is based on that idea. Now what I am about to say will get me into some really hot water with some folks but I am compelled to say it. The Psalm is just not true, at least in the way that it reads to us today. I do not think it’s meant to be a doctrinal statement. It wasn’t true for David who wrote the Psalm and it hasn’t been true for a myriad of other people written about in the Bible. It may have been an accepted practice to write such poetic statements in that culture and time in history but it clearly doesn’t mean what it appears to mean to us today. So Satan uses this poetic verse in a literal way to try and trick Jesus into acting on it literally. He doesn’t bite.. neither should we.
Just so you know.. taking an overly literal approach to scripture can lead you into some really dangerous situations and heartbreaking disappointments. The Spirit, the same one guiding Jesus is meant to aid us in determining the right and wrong interpretation of scripture as well as choices in our day to day lives . Knowing a bit of cultural and historical context will go along way toward reducing the harmful effects of an overly literal interpretation and in the other direction also in over spiritualizing a simple action or direction. Some times a walk is just putting one foot in front of another.. sometimes a walk represents a chosen path or ideology and a way of life. My dog Jesse just wants to go for a walk.. he perks up when i say the word.. he is not pondering his existance and wondering if he will ever reach his fullness as a dog, no he just wants to find as many things as he can to sniff and pee on.
So Jesus ignores the second identity smear and refuses the overtly religious literal bait which by the way has been working famously with the Pharisees and counters with His own bible quote. Quoting Moses again : Deuteronomy 6:16 – “”You shall not put the Lord your God to the test…” What does that mean ? One possible meaning that comes to mind is that testing God with such a challenge reverses the roles of authority. In a healthy family dynamic the child isn’t in charge, demanding that the parent do this or that. A child choosing to dart out into traffic to see if his parents will save them will likely receive some form of severe discipline if they survive their foolishness intact. Another perspective which is closely related to the authority meaning actually shows up later in the Gospel when Jesus proclaims..” I only do what the Father tells me to do “. There are several places where the concept of Jesus’s unity of purpose with The Father is clearly born out. He is not only making a personal statement about His relationship with the Father but modeling what our relationship with the Father is to be like. Trying to force God’s hand is nothing short of manipulation. Jesus will have non of it. Neither should we.
Moving on to the final test… quoting again from the Message Bible ; “For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.” The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.”
It seems here that Satan the accuser has abandoned the identity attack at least directly and has changed tactics. He has tried and failed to appeal to basic human fleshly desire … he has twisted scripture and used religion to attempt to displace God’s position of authority over human life unsuccessfully. Now he uses the last great desire of all humans.. power and influence, politics.. the lust for empire….status. This is exactly the kind of Messiah the Jews were expecting. He would conquer Israel’s enemies through means of raw and unstoppable force.
In keeping with tradition.. Moses was also told to go to the top of a high mountain, Mount Nebo to be exact, and to survey the promised land. The passage is Deuteronomy 34:1-4. The location of Mount Nebo is due east of Jericho .. about 16 miles. It is on the Jordanian side of the Jordan river. Early Rabbi’s interpreted Moses surveying the land as far as the eye could see in much the same way as seeing all the kingdoms of the earth. It makes me wonder if this is not the exact same spot Jesus was takin too. Moses was not allowed to enter the promised land, he died right there on the mountain. Moses was certainly God’s man of the hour, but he was just a man. His life and mission were a type and shadow of The Savior. His sin kept him from entering the promised land. This is a powerful picture for all of us to understand. Even the most celebrated and accomplished God followers cannot enter God’s kingdom based upon their own efforts. Moses needed a Savior as much as any of us do.
What satan must not have known or understood was that The Father had all ready told Jesus that he would inherit all of the kingdoms of the earth. Jesus believed Him, so should we. The verse is Psalm 2:7 and 8.
Satan in Aramaic means The adversary. At this point in time, satan had been given a degree of control of much of the systems of the world. Satan is trying to put himself into the position of God and get God’s children to worship him ! Sin, separation from God and death are the results. Through deception, Adam and Eve ( real or allegorical ) had handed satan this authority. Sin… meaning alienation between mankind and God had entered the world. Anything and everything that brings separation between God and man can be viewed as sin. Paul the apostle comments much later in the New Testament that sin entered the world through one man, that being Adam.. and salvation comes to the world through one man, that being Jesus, The second and final Adam, The Son of God, The Anointed King of God’s Kingdom.
The covert nature of God’s plan to rescue His children was a complete surprise to everyone. Even though the Jews were very interested in prophecy they still could not get a clear picture of the actual plan. Satan was in the dark as well. It’s seems clear that he knew Jesus was at least a prophet, but The Son of God showing up as a man was outside his expectations. Jesus’s rather minimal scriptural replies to satan’s temping’s did not help him much. Jesus did not appear to be willing to engage him in chatty conversation. Quoting “ if you resist the accuser.. he will flee “ James 4 verse 7 comes into play here. Jesus tells him to go away.. and he does. Something to remember when you encounter a temptation yourself.
Jesus had made it clear, He intended to worship God, and God alone ! By the way, when you encounter the word “ worship “ think love.. deep and complete love. Jesus submitted to the will of God. His obedience results in triumph over the adversary. Where Moses and Israel had failed in their 40 year test, Jesus had succeeded.
What came next ? Verse 11 .. “The Test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.” There is certainly some comfort in this verse. Jesus has just experienced the most difficult 40 days of his life and he gets some much needed assistance. What must that have been like ? A jubilant happy dance ? .. i am guessing not. The scene in my mind is more like that of a heavy weight prize fighter sitting in a corner on a little stool exhausted and bloodied being attended to by trainers.
What it also says to me is we are not alone. I think this is important. I don’t know anyone who goes through this life unscathed. There are more than enough opportunities for every kind of heartbreak and failure to go around. But to know that God is watching over us in this very human drama is comforting to me. His Spirit is there for us to cry out too. To be sure, every bad circumstance that comes our way doesn’t just magically disappear when we pray.. but we can be sure.. just as in Jesus’ case, we are never alone. Jesus knew this very important truth : God is Good and He has a plan.
Scripture is clear.. “ God tempts no one ! “ I don’t believe God is the author of calamity. He does not bring pestilence upon the earth. He is not looking for ways to trip us up. He is not the author of disease, disability, disaster or evil, corona virus included. This world of ours is indeed suffering from all of those issues but it’s not at God’s instigation. The world may be responding to two things.. the effects of the enemy and our irresponsible care taking.
What I am confident of is God’s ability to use even the most horrific of circumstances and make something good come from it.
I don’t like being tested. I also don’t like being told what to do. I am guessing there is a connection between the two. For me, “My will be done “ comes up more often than “ Thy will be done “.
A commentary writer named William Barclay also speaks to the idea that we sometimes think we should have grown past the stage of being tested.. sadly, it’s not true. Jesus was tested again in Gethsemane just hours before he was crucified. We will be enduring testings of every kind as long as we are alive on this planet. Our degree of success in passing or failing these tests lies somewhere in the land of humble obedience and a loving relationship to God. The Holy Spirit within us is there to lead us and guide us through.. but as in any relationship, He can be ignored.
In 1st Peter 4:12 and 13 it says : “Friends, when life gets really difficult, don’t jump to the conclusion that God isn’t on the job. Instead, be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. This is a spiritual refining process, with glory just around the corner.” Another version calls the testing a “fiery trial “, that’s feels a lot closer to what I experience.
Wilderness & Paradise : Adam and Eve ( literal or figurative ) were tested.. as all men and women are tested. Their test took place in paradise. It was there in paradise that he and Eve both failed their test. As a result both chose to walk away from God and hide. We now live in the wilderness of hiding from God.
Jesus, sometimes referred to as “the second Adam” was also tested, only this time he did not fail the test. Jesus test came in the wilderness and as a result of his success, the way for all of us to return to paradise has been secured.
Well thats enough to think about for now..
Until next time .. I am Gene Ort and Thank you for listening to the common man commentary.
I’D LIKE TO LEAVE YOU WITH This “ blessing :
Love God. Love Yourself. Love the next person He puts in front of you.