Thursday, January 7, 2010

Feasting on the Will of God (Matthew 4:3&4)

by JM
"If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread" (Matthew 4:3).
Here's another way of capturing the temptation: "since you have the power and position of deity (being co-equal and co-majestic with the Father), shortcut this period of dedication to the Father." "Jesus, there's no need for complete surrender to the Father, partial obedience will do. It's legal: you're the son of God."

Jesus answered and said,
"it is written, man shall not live on bread alone, but every word that proceeds from the mouth of God."
Jesus is the Son of God. This was not at issue in the temptation. The passage would be better rendered, "Since you are the Son of God, command...." Satan's tactic was to eclipse Jesus' humanity with his divinity, and therefore to undermine Christ's identification and mediation for a fallen humanity (this is why a thousand heresies seek to darken the relationship of Christ's divine nature and human nature). As Son of God, Jesus needed no fasting, no testing, no tempting. But as Son of Man, he must learn obedience through the things which he has suffered.

Our second Adam must not live on bread alone, but every word of God. Which is to say, given the options of (1) excercising his authority in such a way that fails to fully acknowledge the Father as a man, or (2) relinquishing the power and the comfort of Sonship so as to maintain a complete and undiluted devotion, Jesus declares he'll always choose the later.
"Sacrifice and offering you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me...I have come to do your will of God" (Hebrews 10:5-9)
Jesus says in so many words, "I will go hungry, undergo demonic assault, experience mockings, scourgings, crucifixition, and death if it means staying true to the Father, because doing the will of God is my ulitmate food, affirmation, comfort, glory, and life."

Consider the application: "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus..." (Philippians 2:4).

Do you find great delight, as Jesus did, in obedience to God even when such obedience may mean a fasting from your will and comfort (which may be legal and moral in certain contexts)? Do you find such great delight in God's Will that even when disobedience is easy and pleasurable and within hand's reach, yet you choose the fast? This question is remarkably profound, especially in light of the reference Jesus uses: Deuteronomy 8:3 -
"He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD."
Notice that the Israelites' fast was compelled by God. God eliminated the possibility of the Jews eating anything except Manna (a type of Jesus - John 6) and drinking from anything except the rock (another type of Jesus - 1 Cor. 10:4).

Why the compulsion? Why the elimination of "freedom?"

Because there was no significant hunger for God resident within His people that would compel them to eat manna, and manna only, even should quail sweep through the camp in great abudance (consider that even when God did send quail, this was done out of judgment and not mercy). Given the option of quail, they'll abandon manna everytime. Given the option of sin or Christ, some will choose sin every time. In short, they had no true freedom. Their appetites were shackled by sin.

Consequently, God enforces limitations on the Jews until they recognize such limitations to be liberations; until they realize that the greater glory is seen when a man or a woman enforces these limitations on themselves rather than God giving no other choice. Like the Son of Man who, although perfectly within his right to assert his divine nature, refuses to exercise that right because of how it would have undermined the Father. The God/man hungered for the Father's glory more than his own, even though such a regard would cause unimaginable physical and spiritual angst.

Do you, as me, desire for that heaven-born appetite that will forgo all earthly pleasures should they even hint towards undermining the all-sufficiency of the Father? Do you, as me, find the ancient Israelite lurking within your heart, quick to hand Jesus over for thirty piece of silver and abandon manna at the sound of rustling feathers in the distance? Let's be quicker to embrace the pain of abstention at the slightest hint of sin than we have been to embrace sin at the slightest hint of pleasure. May God match our appetites with his glory.