[rest·awe] youth talk – Temptation of Jesus Part 2

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Talk – Temptation of Jesus Part 2


Matthew 4:5-7

I want to start by getting us to think about why we test people. In what ways do we get tested? Well the most obvious form of testing is at school. Usually the teacher will give you a test to find out how good your knowledge is, or how capable you are at performing a certain task. For example, a maths teacher may give you a test so you can prove that you know the content, and that you are capable enough to be able to answer the questions successfully. The teacher then marks each student’s answers and gives you a grade to show you how well you did, or if you passed or failed. But tests aren’t always about grades. Sometimes teachers give you quizzes, which might not go towards your final mark, but just prove that you were listening in class. Tests might not be so direct either. Teacher’s will test that a student is diligent by checking to see if they have done the homework they set for them.

The reason that teacher’s quiz you and check your homework is not because they want to make your life difficult, it’s because they don’t trust you. They don’t trust that you were paying attention or writing the notes in class even if you looked like you were, so they quiz you to see if you were actually listening. They don’t trust that you did the homework even if you say you did, so they must check it. Although to be fair, if they didn’t check it, nobody would actually do it, so the reason teachers don’t trust students is because they are generally untrustworthy.

These situations are similar to the way people test God. In the first part of the passage that I’m going to talk about, we will see that when we test God, it means that we don’t trust him.

That when you truly trust God and have faith in him, you don’t need to test him.

We hear about the second way the devil tries to manipulate Jesus in verses 5 and 6.

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

In the passage, the devil takes Jesus to the holy city, which is Jerusalem. For the previous temptation, they were in the wilderness. When they were in the wilderness, they were seemingly as far from God as you could get. The devil tried to tempt Jesus by suggesting that God had abandoned him, and that he would die because he had no food. But that didn’t work did it. So instead, the devil changes tactics and takes him to the place where they would feel closest to God, the highest point of the temple. This is because he tries to tempt Jesus by suggesting that God is close enough that if Jesus jumped off, God would definitely be able to save him.

We are not sure exactly how high up they were, but they were at the highest point of the temple, and it was a pretty big temple. From the devil’s perspective, that is definitely high enough to kill any normal human being without divine intervention. The devil tells Jesus to throw himself of the edge to see if God will send the angels to catch him. The devil uses God’s own words against Jesus to make it seem like even if he deliberately put himself in harm’s way, God will save him.

He wants Jesus to test God, to force God’s hand to prove that his word is true by responding. He is testing that God will do what he said he would do, to see if God is as powerful he makes out to be, and to see if God loves his own son enough to stop him from dying.

I want you to think about times when you deliberately tested God. When you called him out, tried to force him to do something just because you wanted him to. Maybe you’ve demanded that he physically show himself to you to prove that he is really there. Maybe you’ve questioned God’s reliability because He was not meeting your expectations of what you think he should do in a certain situation.

Jesus’ response to the suggestion that he should test God both clarifies the devil’s true intentions and makes clear what the right thing to do is.

Verse 7 says:

7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Jesus responds with another verse from scripture that perfectly refutes the devil’s attempts. He makes it obvious that God shouldn’t be put to the test. Jesus refused to test God in such a way.

Like how our teacher’s might test us because they don’t trust that we’ve done what we said we were going to do, Jesus didn’t want to test God because if he did it would mean that he didn’t trust God, that he doubted that God would keep his promises and that he is as powerful as he says he is.

In the same way, when we test God it is because we don’t trust him, we doubt that he is really with us like he says that he is. We are supposed to have faith in God. He calls us to accept his word without requiring a sign or any kind of test, as that defeats the purpose of faith.

Testing God is wrong because it portrays that we don’t trust him, but that’s not the only reason. I used the analogy of your teachers testing you, but when we test God it’s like saying we are the teacher in that analogy. But God is our teacher, not the other way around. What right do we have to test God, to ask him to prove himself to us, when he created us?

It would be like you giving your teacher a written test and saying “you have to pass this test in order for me to trust that you are worthy to teach us”. If we were to do that, wouldn’t they be offended? God feels the same way when we try to get him to reveal himself to us.

However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean he won’t provide for us.

If we look at the last verse of this section, verse 11, it says:

11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Even though Jesus rejects Satan’s temptation to test God and see if he’ll send his angels to save him, God does exactly that at the end. He sends the angels to help Jesus because Jesus trusted him, not because Jesus tested him.

This reminds us that God’s promises are there for us when we need them; but to manipulate situations in an attempt to coerce God into fulfilling His promises not what he wants us to do.

Before I pause to give you some time to reflect on this, I wanted to touch on something else in the passage that some of you may be confused over. When suggesting to Jesus that God will be there to save him if he threw himself off, the Devil quotes scripture. This shows that the Devil knows the Bible. He knew it well enough to quote and manipulate it to trick Jesus. This tells us that people can use the Bible against us. The Devil took the passage out of its context, and it’s important that we don’t do this. We need to be able tell when a passage is used differently to how it was intended, and we can’t just trust that when people quote the Bible they are not twisting it to say what they want it to say. We need to be sure it is God’s truth we are reading or hearing.

So what can we take from this passage? We should trust God, not test him. We should have faith that God is there for us when we need him, because when we trust him we don’t need to test him, he will provide us with what we need.

Written by Christian Damtoft.

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