Sunday

'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.' (v. 10)

Matthew 4:1-11 Sunday 1 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 32

Background

Immediately before this story, Jesus has been baptised by John. As he came up from the water, the voice from heaven declared, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." These words speak of God’s absolute commitment to Jesus.

But where do Jesus’ loyalties lie? A second voice invites him to an alternative allegiance. The first temptation, to turn stones to bread, is an invitation to seek popularity for its own sake. "Buy your way into people’s affections," the tempter is saying. Later, Jesus will feed the hungry (Matthew 14:13-21) and turn water into wine (John 2:1-11). But those are gifts that reveal God’s free grace. When generosity is prompted by the tempter, there is no such thing as a free lunch – there are always strings attached.

The second temptation, to throw himself down from the Temple, suggests a more blatant abuse of God’s power. It’s an invitation to take advantage of God’s commitment to the beloved Son in order to create an unforgettable impression. "Of course God will look after you," the tempter is saying. "Exploit your status and watch the results."

The third temptation is the least subtle. "I will give you all these kingdoms, if only you bow down and worship me." Jesus is offered the power of the Roman emperor, self-appointed master of the whole world, if he is willing to play along with Satan’s pretended claims to power.

Jesus’ loyalty is unquestionable. His commitment is to God, just as God’s commitment is to him. As his public ministry begins, there is no doubt that his allegiance is to God alone, and therefore the source of his power lies in God.

 

To Ponder:

  • How does the tempter make use of the world we live in today to present invitations to us to deny our allegiance to God?
  • What resources does Jesus draw on to help him say no? How might these resources work for you?
Next Page Monday