Prayer renews the soul.
“Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” Matthew 4:11
For years we’ve studied about Jesus’ humanity and the concept that He was just like any one of us. Yet it is difficult to accept that Jesus can actually relate to us. It is so challenging to fathom that the Son of God dealt with similar temptations as us ordinary human beings. This passage shows us not only that He was tempted, but it gives us a blueprint of how to respond to our temptations. After 40 days and nights of fasting, the devil came to tempt Christ. This was His weakest and most vulnerable moment, the perfect opening for Satan. Haven’t we all been in that situation? Jesus was hungry and alone, giving Satan the perfect opportunity. There are times when we are the weakest physically, mentally or spiritually and thoughts or possibilities to sin infiltrate our minds and hearts.
The first temptation was the easiest and most obvious. Offer food to the hungry man, a temptation of the flesh at a price. The second was to have Jesus test God and prove his status while stroking His pride. The third was to offer great wealth and fortune in return for a simple act of submission. These are common temptations we often deal with in our own personal lives. I am of the belief that the devil never wastes his time. He doesn’t close his eyes and throw a dart hoping it hits the target. He has a plan which is well established, and in his eyes, quite effective. He is the most shrewd and cunning creature and uses our weakness to establish his stronghold. The devil targeted Jesus because He was vulnerable and because it was the optimal time to change his heart. The devil knew that Jesus could be swayed because of his humanity. Satan acknowledged the possibility of Christ being the Son of God during the second temptation and yet pursues Him because He was a viable target, just as we are. The emotions Jesus felt at the time is the same we feel during our moments of greatest temptation! It is so difficult to understand that God was as human as any one of us, but yet his own enemy acknowledges that and attacks him as he attacks us. Christ does not shy away from responding to the devil. He does not get defensive, nor does he have self-pity questioning God as to why He is in that situation. Instead He goes on the offensive.
During extreme hunger and with the opportunity to prove His strength and identity, Jesus responds with scripture from Deuteronomy 8:3. He explains that there is more to life than quick worldly pleasures. He unequivocally explains that one should never purposely test God (Deuteronomy 6:16). When provided with an opportunity to sell His soul as a shortcut for all worldly wealth, Jesus responds with Deuteronomy 6:13, fully acknowledging that only God Himself is to be worshipped. During the previous 40 days and nights, Jesus did not just fast but spent the time in prayer and fellowship with His Father. He was maintaining a connection with the Lord, thereby establishing a foundation which ultimately provided Him with the necessary weapons to combat the temptations which were presented to Him. He was armed and prepared for temptations because of the time spent renewing His soul. Ultimately, Jesus’ ability to battle the temptations allowed Him to be attended to by God’s angels. What a great thought knowing after such trying scenarios, God makes it a point to care for us and renews OUR soul!
Dear Lord, Thank you for showing us how to overcome our temptations and for your promise to always attend to us. AMEN
Dr. Ron Jacob, Long Island MTC, NY