Times of testing

Meditate this week on the early scene in the gospels where, after his baptism, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).  Why would he do this?

The Pivot Ministries men’s choir visits our church annually to lead worship.  These are men in a Christ-centered recovery program who deal with addictions and other self-destructive behaviors every day.  Their testimony is moving.  I think we know that it’s not a case of “us” and “them.”  Every one of us, if we’re honest, knows what it is to be tempted.  Christian faith is up front about this.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).

I like the way Bruce Springsteen put it years ago in his song Pink Cadillac (1983): 

Well now way back in the Bible temptations always come along
There’s always somebody tempting somebody into doing something they know is wrong
Well they tempt you, man, with silver and they tempt you, sir, with gold
And they tempt you with the pleasures that the flesh does surely hold.

Bruce then reflects whimsically on the notion of Eve tempting Adam with an apple.  “Man I ain’t going for that – I know it was her pink Cadillac.”  Whatever it is that gets the better of you – silver or gold, this or that pleasure of the flesh, whatever it may be – here’s what you need to know:

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted on your behalf.  He can “sympathize with us in our weakness” because he shares our humanity.  You have a Savior “who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).

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