Genesis 4, Matthew 4, Ezra 4, Acts 4

Today’s readings are Genesis 4, Matthew 4, Ezra 4, Acts 4. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Matthew 4, especially verses 1-11. 

Having been identified by God as His Son in Matthew 3:17, Jesus was sent by the Holy Spirit into the desert. The purpose of this trip was, according to verse 1, “to be tempted by the devil.” Apparently the devil was patient and waited until Jesus was physically depleted from having fasted for 40 days & nights (v. 2). Since Christ did not have a sin nature to appeal to, Satan waited until Jesus was starving, then tempted him to use his power as God to create food for himself from the abundant stones that lay around them (v. 3). It is not immediately obvious to me that what Satan was tempting Christ to do was sinful. Didn’t Christ create all things? Aren’t all things created by him and for him (Col 1:16)? If so, would it be wicked for the son of God to sustain his human life by adapting what he created to serve him in his moment of physical need?

The answer to this is that it would not be a sin for Christ to change the stones into bread. He did miracles like this to feed others without being guilty of sin. No, it was not sinful for Christ to use his divine power to meet human needs; it would have been sinful for him to do for himself what other humans could not do for themselves. People die of starvation all the time; it is part of the human condition. Since it is part of the human condition, it was necessary for Christ as one who was fully human to be subject to that aspect of the human condition. In other words, it would be inappropriate and selfish for him to satisfy his human desires just because he had the divine power to do so. Since it was the Father’s will for him to exist in fully human form, it would be wrong for him to make living as a human easier on himself by using his divine power to cheat.

Although we don’t have the power to supernaturally satisfy our desires, we do understand the temptation to live outside of the Father’s will. So much of sin is a desire to exempt ourselves from the struggles of the human condition. Those who steal are looking for an exemption from the command to work for a living. Those who commit adultery are looking for an exemption from the marriage covenant they made before God. In what ways are you tempted to sin and justify it by the extraordinary circumstances you are in? Remember that Christ has felt the pull of that temptation, too, so look to him and ask him for grace to do what you know is right.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.