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Posts Tagged ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test’

Have you ever wanted to discuss something important with someone, only to realise it’s probably not a good idea at that strategic moment? Perhaps the person seems too busy or too grumpy or too something or other. Much better to retreat and try again later!

I’ve certainly done that. But recently, I stumbled upon an example that stopped me in my tracks. I was reading in Luke’s Gospel how Jesus was led out into the desert and tempted by the devil for forty days and nights. At the end of that time, Jesus is very hungry (Lk 4:2) and also, no doubt, weak and tired. It’s then that the devil pounces, suggesting a way Jesus can satisfy that hunger. But Jesus stands firm, immediately quoting Scripture at his adversary:

‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone.’

The devil then tries to tempt Jesus to worship him and, when that doesn’t work, he tries to persuade Jesus to throw himself down from the highest point of the temple to prove the angels will rescue him. But when that doesn’t work either, he gives up—for the moment at least:

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Lk 4:13

That last phrase, an opportune time, impacted me with extra force. The devil was watching Jesus, waiting for just that right moment to pounce again—that moment of weakness or selfishness or lack of obedience to his Father. I read on, taking in the momentous occasion when Jesus reads Isaiah 61:1-2 aloud in the synagogue in Nazareth and declares he has now fulfilled those very words. His hearers become furious, drive him out of the town and try to throw him off a cliff. But, as verse 30 says, he (Jesus) walked right through the crowd and went on his way.

It was not the devil in the end but Jesus who called the shots. Jesus simply walked away. Many times over, we read of instances where the devil tried to trap Jesus, yet each time, Jesus saw through his tricks. In fact, it was not until Jesus knew his time had come (Jn 8:20, 13:1) that he allowed the devil to do what he wanted with him (Jn 10:18). Even then, this happened only because Jesus knew it was his Father’s will (Lk 22:42).

I began to think about the many ‘opportune times’ I give the devil on a regular basis to cause trouble in my own life. How often do I decide to ignore what God is saying to me about some attitude or behaviour of mine? How often do I refuse to take time to listen to God, to pray and to read and know Scripture, so I can use it as Jesus did? How often do I make myself easy prey to all sorts of difficulties the devil delights to bring my way?

Yet right now, we have been given an opportune time of a different sort—a time to turn to God, to ask for and receive the forgiveness and love and grace God offers each of us so freely.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Is 55:6

Right now, I’m doing just that. How about you?

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