Jesus Our Perfect Example: Lessons From The Wilderness (Final Submission)
Throughout the month of February and March, I have been expositing on Matthew 4, picking lessons from Jesus’ experiences in the wilderness. I have done a four part series, Parts One, Two, Three and Four. Today, I will treat the last part.
14: God Alone Deserves Our Worship
And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve (Matthew 4:9-10).
David was right on point when he wrote: “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalms 119:103). Have you ever had an experience where out of nowhere a text of Scripture comes into your mind with fresh insight and understanding? At that moment, it feels like God just dropped a little of His magnificent glory into your heart. You suddenly get a new and fresh perspective about God's word. While preparing for this post, I experienced just that: A Scripture from nowhere just came into my mind:
Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Like we say in Charismatic circles, it blew my mind. I just went “wow“! Marvellous! I pray I am able to explain myself well. Note that throughout His encounter with the devil in the wilderness, Jesus has been quoting “the law and the prophets“. Every Scripture Jesus used against the devil was from the law written by a prophet Moses. This means, Jesus was living and fulfilling the law. He didn't not say; “I am greater than the law, so I will act anyhow”. He lived and fulfilled the law by obeying it. Jesus didn't come to set the law aside. He came to fulfil the law. He came to do just what the law said: He met every single requirement of the law. Remember what He told John The Baptist?
Suffer it to be so now: for ...us to fulfil all righteousness.(Matthew 3:15).
The highest point of fulfilling the law was His death on the cross. Jesus Himself drew an analogy from the law about how He should die. “And as Moses lifted up [hanged] the serpent in the wilderness [on the tree], even so must the Son of man be lifted up [hanged on a tree, cross]:” (John 3:14). So Jesus lived and fulfilled the law right unto His death. When He died, He set us free and gave us the power to fulfil God's commandments. He Jesus became a commandment for us. Like a capsule, the whole law was encapsulated in Him: “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
Now, though we are saved and set free to obey God, we have to contend with a devil whose chief aim is to receive the glory that is due God. Once upon a time in heaven, the battle lines were drawn. A “no go area“ was crossed. Pride arose in the heart of an angel. He desired God's glory. He desired to share in God's glory. Right there before the throne of God, rebellion against Almighty God arose:
For thou [Lucifer] hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:13-15).
It's evident: the devil has been at it for ages; his every move has been to get and share in the glory that only God deserves. And since we are created in God's image, we become the target of his onslaught. He baits us. He makes us offers. He deceives us into believing he has something to offer. Of course, should the devil appear with potruding horns and a horrible monstrous face like he is depicted in images, we obviously will ignore him.
He comes cunningly; slowly we get engrossed in a busy schedule with no time for God. We run around making a life and forgetting God. We begin to even question whether God is relevant. We start believing a lie that we can make it without God. In extreme cases, people start meddling in the occult and other forms of worship not prescribed by God. We can't and must not dilute our worship of God. Let’s take stock of our lives and let any other thing that takes the place of God in our life be dealt with.
15: Speak To Your Situation
Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan...Then the devil leaveth him...(Matthew 4:10-11).
If you critically examine Matthew 4, you will realise that, up until now (vs10-11), Jesus and Satan have been engaging in a back and forth exchanging words. Right from vs two through to vs nine, it has been just the quoting and counter quoting of the Word of God. Strange phenomenon; and quite disturbing: even Satan knows the word. It seems the devil was not perturbed hearing the word of God at all.
So knowing the word and quoting it is one thing. Exercising the authority of the word is another thing: it's the exercising of the authority of the word that gets results. As a writer, I am fully aware my ability to write or speak about the word of God doesn't necessarily mean I will enjoy the benefits of the word. To have a full impact of the word in my life; I have to, as a matter of necessity, activate the power in the word. I have to speak and declare the word: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Proverbs 18:21).
“Get thee hence” produced the effect of “the devil leaveth him“. Don't under estimate the power of the spoken word. Speak the word! Declare the word to any situation that rises up against you. It's not enough to know the word: we got to activate the word to work on our behalf:
And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord GOD, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy [speak, command, declare] upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:” (Ezekiel 3:3-5).
16: The Lord Provides.
Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him(Matthew 4:11)
After enduring hunger and overcoming the onslaught of the devil's temptations, angels came and ministered unto Jesus. They provided for His needs. Throughout Scriptures, we see angels actively involved in God's relationship with humankind. In contemporary human history, there have also been reported cases of people encountering angels. Angels, the Bible says are ministering spirits sent to minister to those who will be heirs of salvation ( Hebrews 1:14).
The phrase “angels came and ministered unto him” in the context of Scripture, could mean only one thing: they brought Jesus food: Food to satisfy His hunger and strengthen Him. God does provide for His own and He will provide our needs. Hear Jesus:
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? (Matthew 6:25-27).
“Take no thought for your life“: Stop worrying! Stop frightening. Stop the tension and the stress. “Be still and know that I am God“ (Psalms 46:10). Note that Matthew 6 above, was written in the context of the Lord's Prayer. There in the Lord's prayer, we read “Give us this day our daily bread“. Of course, the provision of God goes beyond food. God‘s provision covers every area of our lives. Included in the whole package is our total wellbeing. God will not leave us to be crushed. In every situation, we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus. You might be going through challenges and tough times. You might be enduring some harsh conditions. Don't give up! Trust God. He provides for His own. He is a Master at that. He has never failed, and you will not be the first to break His record of faithfulness. Whatever situation you face, remember we have an ever abiding promise of God's presence: “...I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5).