24 September 2015

In the Wilderness: Christ Did What We Couldn't

A Lord's Supper devotional I gave a while back:

Matthew 4:1-11 (ESV)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Deut 8:3)

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “ ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Deut 6:16)

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’”(Deut. 6:13) Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Here we find Yeshua about to enter into his public ministry, and right after he is baptized he goes into the wilderness for 40 days. We can see many parallels in what he does here and what Israel experienced in their wilderness wanderings. The connection is seen initially from Yeshua’s quoting of three verses out of Deuteronomy that are part of Israel’s wilderness experience.

God promised Israel that they would be given rest in a new land, where they would be His people under His laws. Before Israel could enter into that rest, she was to be tested – and was tested for 40 years – paralleling the 40 days of Yeshua’s testing. 

Israel was to trust God for provisions - was to be patient through trials they experienced - and they were to worship Yahweh alone. Yet in all three areas of testing, they failed.  Now, Yeshua was being tested. He was to trust His Father for his physical needs – to have patience until his time of public acknowledgement - and was to worship the Father alone. Of course, in all areas, Yeshua succeeded in passing the test.

Yeshua relived the tests of Israel, and passed them, allowing Him and his people to enter the promised land – the Kingdom of God – and gain the promised rest and fellowship with God that Israel was promised. Israel had failed, and a different generation of people entered the land, but now Yeshua succeeds, and enters the land for His people.

In order for us to enter this promised land of the Kingdom, we must live perfectly obedient to all that God expects of us. However, that being the case, our chances of succeeding are no better than the ancient Israelites. The only way we can accomplish this, is through the one who has already done it for us. Yeshua did what he did in the wilderness in order to accomplish what we could never do on our own. It is only by faith in what he did and who he is, that we can ever hope to enter into the presence of God and His Kingdom. 

That is what he is inviting us to do as we gather around this table – to come and sit at His table – and rest with His family – to enter into His Kingdom – and it is all to be accomplished by putting our complete faith – not in what we have or can do – but solely on what he did, and on His body and blood that he shed for our sakes.