Last week, I started a series titled Jesus Our Perfect Example: Lessons From the wilderness. I treated Part One last week, and this week I present you with Part Two of the series. For a quick recap, I indicated I will walk through Matthew Four for these lessons. In the Part One, I treated three points and this week we will look at another three.
4: God understands our humanness
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred (Matthew 4:2).
Earlier in my Christian life, one of the insights that brought me great relief and confidence before God --- and it still does--- is an understanding I came to, that God understands my humanness. What do I mean? Then, instead of walking in faith, I was walking in my strength in trying to please God. For me, in my immaturity, a relationship with God was more of do‘s and don'ts. This brought me constant desperation and despair. Paul‘s words in Romans 7:24 best explained my state then:
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death[sin, weaknesses, frailties, failures, guilt]?
How does all these corroborate Jesus' forty days and nights of fasting, plus his hunger afterwards? I will explain: Matthew 4:2 is one of the many Scriptures that confirms Jesus' humanity when He walked on earth. He was fully God and yet fully human. Paul awed about this and said "...great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.." (1 Timothy 3:16). Because Jesus was fully human, He identifies and symphatises with our humanness. It was this understanding that liberated me from my guilt and gave me confidence to go before God expecting His grace to work on my behalf.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.(Hebrews 4:15).
Where are you now? Are you running away from God because you think you're worse off? Stop the running. Don't let guilt eat you up. Pick yourself up and find your way back home. God knows you. He understands your weaknesses and He is ready to help you if you allow Him: “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.“ (Psalm 103:14).
And when he had fasted... (Matthew 4:2)
I believe fasting is not new to many of us, so I won't talk about it. I will rather look at one of the many results and benefits of fasting---Humility. When we fast, we humble ourselves "under the mighty hand of God" (1 Peter. 5:6). In the Old Testament, fasting came along with wearing sackcloth and smearing ones self with ashes; an imagery of humility:
I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:“ (Daniel 9:3).
In the previous point, I indicated how Jesus was both fully God and fully human. However, as fully human, He emptied Himself of His glory as God to become a sacrifice for our sins. In emptying Himself of His glory as God and taking on the form of a man, He gave us an example of humility to follow:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name (Philippians 2:5-9).
Note the last verse; "...God also hath highly exalted Him..." What this means is that, humility attracts God's promotion. The way to the top is humility: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:6).
6: Control Your Appetites.
And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him...(Matthew 4:2-3).
By appetites, I am not only describing the desire for food. In its wider sense, appetites cover all human weaknesses and desires. There's always a relationship between our appetites (weaknesses and desires) and temptation. You will notice from Matthew 4:2-3 that Jesus' hunger and appetite for food brought the devil into the picture. The devil is crafty. He doesn't come in our moments of strength. He shows up in our weak moments. So Paul warns that "...let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (1 Corinthians 10:12).
You see, our uncontrolled appetites can lead us into trouble. It's a non-negotiable! We have to develop self-control. Scripture is very clear on this: "He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls." (Proverbs 25:28). That is a scary thought; without self-control, we become vulnerable. Our defense system(wall) is broken down; and anything---just anything---can enter our lives and destroy us. I believe we are not oblivious of the many lives in history that have been destroyed by their moment of uncontrolled appetite and human weaknesses.
Esau sold his birthright because of hunger( He was later on in the New Testament described as a profane person). Moses in his anger lost entry into the promise land. David went down in a moment of weakness. Though, saved and washed by the blood of Christ, our body is still earthy and fallen. It's our personal responsibility therefore to subject our body to the Spirit of God:
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16).