Bible Reading: Matthew 4:1-2, 8-11
Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
I have good memories of our children when they were young, of throwing them up in the air and catching them; they loved the thrill of it, confident in the knowledge that I would catch them and hold them secure. I also have more recent memories of being in the swimming pool with our grandchildren. Unable to swim, they would launch themselves off the side of the pool, unafraid of the water, secure in the knowledge that they would be caught.
Being secure in the love and protection of parents and grandparents is important, but the life message from this was not that it is OK to live irresponsibly because there will always be someone there to catch you! Life is precious. We can never be risk-free but let us not take such risks with our health or our lifestyle that we put in jeopardy the very life that God has given us.
This second temptation of Jesus is about security. The temple was the tallest building in Jerusalem and the highest point would be the corner pinnacle overlooking the valley below. Not a place from which to try base jumping! Jesus was secure in the love of his Father; he didn’t need to try and prove it. We too can be secure in the knowledge of God's love for us because he sent his son to die for us so that we can know forgiveness and eternal life. God doesn’t need to do anything else to prove his love for us.
When life is tough some people are tempted to doubt God and to say, ‘If God really loved me, why is this happening’. Life was pretty tough for Jesus in the wilderness, but the security of his Father’s love meant that he could trust his Father to be with him and to bring him safely through. He didn’t need to look for further proof of God’s love.
There is also a message here about our use of the scriptures. Notice how the devil quoted scripture in an attempt to deceive Jesus. The verses he quoted are from Psalm 91, a great psalm about the promise of God's protection in times of danger, but not to be read in the way the devil was suggesting. Jesus knew the verses and understood them in the wider context of the whole of scripture. Whilst God can speak to us individually through specific verses, it is important that we have a good understanding of the breadth of scripture in order to avoid being deceived and led down a blind and dangerous alley.
Thank you, Lord Jesus, that whatever today brings my way, I am secure in your love for me.
The Lord’s my Shepherd – And I will trust