Reading Through the Bible, Tuesday, October 11. Matthew 4 – 6

    Just as in all proper baptism since the beginning of Christianity, Jesus received the Holy Spirit, and Matthew notes that it directed his life – right into the wilderness, right into the path of testing.

    There are two ways to think about testing (or temptation).  One is the encouragement to do wrong.  That’s surely what the devil hoped to achieve.  The other is to test so as to strengthen.  That’s surely what the Spirit hoped to achieve.  And in the temptation of Jesus, both are attempted in the same event.

    Is it too much to conclude that the same thing might happen to us; that God might lead us into difficult times where we are tempted to do wrong (by Satan) so that we might become stronger, more reliant on God?

    I think not.

    In the temptation story, Jesus faced a test of the heart.  What was most important to him: bread or living by the will of God?  He faced a test of life: would he believe God would take care of him, or would he rely on his wits, experience and what he could see?  He faced a test of strength: would he trust in God’s ability to achieve something spectacular in his life, or would he take the easy way and accomplish what any other human empowered by Satan could do?

    In every test, Jesus pointed to what God wanted, and took that path.  In presenting this story, Matthew provides a lead-in to the Sermon on the Mount (chapters 5-7) where obedience to God is paramount.