Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Today's reading from the New Testament shows Jesus confronted by two enemies. The first is the devil, who came to him in the desert, telling him to turn stones into bread;
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'"
Luke 4:4
(Oddly enough, Matthew 4:3-4 say nearly the same thing as Luke 4:3-4.) Three times the devil tries to derail Jesus, and three times Jesus replies by quoting the Scriptures. Then the devil leaves.

A little further down, Jesus enters the synagogue, and reads something from the Scriptures and makes a few comments. Note what happens next.
28All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Luke 4.28-30
By the way, in the first confrontation, the devil attacks first, and Jesus responds with Scripture; in the second one, Jesus reads and comments upon the Scripture, and the people respond by attacking him.

Anyway, I don't think this passage proves it necessarily, but I've heard it said that "You are indestructible until you've accomplished God's will for you." Which I guess makes sense, if we believe God is fully in control of the world. It also explains the boldness I see in some people, who believe God has called them to minister in conditions that others find too dangerous; they are emboldened by their sense of mission.

And I think of some mission pioneers, who went into the mission field, taking their possessions in a pine box, about 1' by 2' by 6', or maybe a little longer for the taller missionaries. They would go out, these young men and women, each with their own box. And a few years later, their lifeless body would be shipped home in that same box. But each one, before they died, was confident that they had done God's will for their lives; they were indestructible until that point.

And so are we. Most of us aren't that bold -- I'm certainly not. But perhaps there is a little boldness that the Lord would like to give us. What might it be for you or for me today? We really are indestructible, you know -- until our time.

What was that temptation about, anyway?

After reading the passage to the younger teen tonight, I remembered a sermon we heard about this when we were living in Tokyo and attending Musashino Chapel Center. So I thought I'd tell you about it.

The temptations were three: tell the stone to become bread (or "stones" in Matthew's account); throw yourself down from the temple in a spectacular display that will have people talking for weeks; worship me and I'll give you power over all the kingdoms of the earth.

Those things -- bread (nothing wrong with bread), fame (or glory), and authority -- those all were things Jesus was going to get anyway. What the devil's temptation consisted of was basically short-cuts. Use your power and ability, the things you know how to do, doing things the way you feel comfortable doing them -- do that rather than relying upon God, and what will happen?

Nothing good; you won't get anything you weren't going to get anyway, and the wrong approach will bring disappointment and grief. It's not just that "the slow way is the safe way" (Frank Herbert, Dune), but that God's way is better than going against his way.

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