I’ve written a lot the last few weeks about battles and warfare. This is partly because of what I’m going through personally, and partly because of what I’ve been reading (Beautiful Outlaw, Wild at Heart, Six Hours One Friday)
Something hit me as I was thumbing through the Gospels recently though. I was looking at Luke, and his account of the beginning of Jesus’s ministry.
“For (during) forty days in the wilderness (desert), where He was tempted (<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>tried, tested exceedingly) by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, He was hungry.” (Luke 4:2 Amplified)
Jesus was tempted. We read it and it often just runs off our conscious mind. Tempted.
Jesus was tempted.
I’ve been meditating on that thought for a while before I wrote this. I learned how to hearwhat God wanted me to say when I first left home. I had an old camping gas stove with an oven that had 2 temperatures: on and off. Full power or nothing. It made cooking experimental, but I learned that if I was cooking in the oven I had to just go and check to see if it was ready yet. I heard another minister, Andrew Wommack, use a similar analogy some years ago to my great relief. Sometimes we need to just sit with the concept God puts in our heart until it matures and is “ready” to be shared.
We read the passage almost flippantly. Jesus fasts for forty days, then He’s hungry.
Hang on a moment – hungry?
Satan challenges Him to turn stones to bread if He is who He claims to be. Temptation. A few years ago I did my longest fast – 10 days. On the 11th day I ate. And ate. Thankfully for the horses in Buckfastleigh, none of them ventured into my home.
Jesus went 40 days without food, and was hungry.
Tempted. When we read the passage it’s easy to only see the God in Jesus. We don’t see His physical pain of hunger. We don’t see the struggle He experienced. We don’t see the decision process. All we see is the outcome. He counters with the Word.
Satan shows Him the kingdoms of the world and offers them to Him in exchange for worship. Jesus had come to claim the kingdoms of the world. Here they are offered to Him. No crucifixion. No torture. No death. All He has to do to avoid it is bow to Satan. He knows the torment He will endure. He knows the suffering He will go through. He’s offered a short-cut that would avoid it.
Again, Jesus was tempted.
I’m no good with temptation. One more mince pie. Just another chocolate. Once it was even marijuana.
I caved. Gave in to the peer pressure and temptation.
Regretted it instantly. Struggled with it for ages, and repented. I had that option. I had the choice because of Jesus. Because Jesus resisted His temptation, my repentance is accepted.
Jesus is the true Hero.
The modern movies all show the hero as some kind of indestructible and unstoppable force. Nothing can break him down or prevent him from reaching his goal. But the ones based on the good books of the past, Lord of the Rings, the Narnia movies. Going back a few years, most of John Wayne’s cowboy roles in his later movies had the same element: The hero could fail. It was a real possibility.
The hero was human. He struggles with temptation and you don’t know if he’ll succeed. Clint Eastwood captured it in “Unforgiven” as William Munney struggles to not revert to the murderous man with not conscience he had been in his youth, ultimately losing the struggle when his friend is killed.
What if Jesus had responded that way when He was told about John’s execution? What if when the thief’s taunting to prove He was who He claimed had been accepted and Jesus had come down from the Cross? Beaten, tortured, His flesh torn from His back. The temptation to come down must have been real. In Gethsemane the stress caused his sweat to fall like blood. I wrote earlier this month that Jesus was so tormented by the thought of what was to come that it would be easy to see the temptation of suicide in His cry of His soul being troubled unto death in His cry to His Father. I’ve been to the point of suicide, and He was what brought me back. His ability to overcome the temptation gave me the strength to recover – the fourth time when I actually let Him.
Jesus the Man is my Hero. God in Him completely, but as human – more human than we are. Human as Adam was before the Fall. Adam succombed to temptation. Jesus redeemed us by resisting.
The Hero of the Battle.