Hunkered Down Devotion

Luke 4:9-12 (Voice)
9 Then the devil led Jesus to Jerusalem, and he transported Jesus to stand upon the pinnacle of the temple.
Devil: Since You’re the Son of God, just jump. Just throw Yourself into the air. 10 You keep quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. They themselves say, He will put His heavenly messengers in charge of You, to keep You safe in every way.  
11 And, They will hold You up in their hands so that You do not smash Your foot against a stone.
Jesus: 12 Yes, but the Hebrew Scriptures also say, “You will not presume on God; you will not test the Lord, the one True God.”

This is not hard, we all know who is the ‘good guy’ and who is the ‘bad guy’ in this passage.  Jesus obviously is the good guy.  He is always the good guy, the perfect guy.  That is clear and simple enough.  Just as simple is that the devil is the bad guy.  We know he is the bad guy because his name gives it away –  type casting or not, devils aren’t good guys (sorry Duke fans) – and on top of the name, the devil is ‘tempting’ Jesus.  We know that is wrong too.

But as I read this passage today, I found myself asking the seemingly sacrilegious question, ‘what is so bad about these temptations?’  If we forget for a second who is asking these questions, it is hard to see just what makes them so bad.  In fact, you could easily say that the ‘temptations’ here really were just a request for a sign, something tangible to hang our hope and faith on.  

In the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’, Morgan Freeman plays God and in order to convince Jim Carrey’s character that he is who he says he is, he does all sorts of things only God could do.  Once Carrey’s character is convinced that Freeman is God, it makes it much easier for him to do what God tells him to do – even the things that might seem crazy (this plays out even more clearly in the sequel Evan Almighty).  

Isn’t that what these temptations really are asking for?  Isn’t this something we would all welcome?  Wouldn’t it be nice for just a little proof that God is there, a little clear direction, so we could know, for sure, what God was calling us to do.  

The temptation for Jesus in this story is to take a shortcut to his purpose, and to move counter to God’s will.  The temptation for us, in asking for proof is that we are called to have faith – Jesus quote from scripture is one for us to remember.  That quote is often rendered ‘don’t put the Lord, your God, to the test’, but I like this translate, which says ‘you will not presume on God’.
God has demonstrated in more ways that we can count, recognize, or imagine his goodness, his greatness, and his love for us.  We are called to trust in him, on faith, knowing that God’s will for us is good and perfect.  And while it might be comforting and convenient, it is up to God, and not us as to when these demonstrations come.   
Sharing God’s Love, 

Prayer: Lord, help us to trust in you.  Help us to look to you in faith, rather than to presume that we can require a sign from you.  Amen.

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