#0114 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down.”
Scripture relevant to today’s posting…
The Man of Lawlessness
2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.
2Thessilonians 2:1-4 (NIV)
Today’s posting is part 4 of a series titled: “Self-righteousness 2.0”. This series is based upon material to be included in my new book. As I am inspired to write this, I am posting these ideas on-the-fly, so they will be fleshed out and edited more before they go into the book. Today we talk further about the expectations the Jews held for decades concerning the coming of the Messiah. We understand that these expectations emerged from the Law of Moses, which, by and large, painted him as the son of a self-righteous God. As we move to the 2nd Temptation of Jesus, Satan hopes to persuade Jesus into assuming the persona of this self-righteous Messiah so that the people will follow Him simply because He fits the profile of this traditional misconception.
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
The setting of the vision alone is enough to reveal to us the self-righteous tone of this temptation. It’s in the Holy City at the tippy-top of the temple—the symbolic, as well as actual pinnacle of Old Testament authority. At the heart of this temptation for Jesus is the intention to lure Him into the ostentatious seat as head of the religious community of the day. Satan is tempting Him with the position greater than even Moses held; but it was at the top of a self-righteous organization; a position designed to serve a self-righteous deity. Assuming such a position would have been totally incompatible with His actual mission which was to overwrite the ages-old Jewish concept of God. Jesus knew it was imperative to replace their old conceptualization with an authentic and righteous perspective of Him. Hoping to keep this from happening, Satan had devised a plan that would have Him conform to the Jews cultural expectation of what the messiah was supposed to be: what He would look like and how He would behave. To this end, he tried to lure Jesus into making a bigger-than-life display of His power. But Satan failed to realize that the source of Jesus’s power emanated from His actual Father—a righteous God and not from the self-righteous God the Law of Moses had them, heretofore, believing in. It was a long-shot but if Satan could pull off getting Jesus to throw Himself off this high pinnacle and thereby, force angels to come down from heaven and save Him in midair in front of the whole town; that would certainly make a lasting impression on a crowd looking for evidence that supported their self-righteous preconception of what the Messiah might do. Jesus responds to him with these words…
“Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
With this statement Jesus accomplishes three important things: 1. He takes the steam out of the devil’s suggestion by not even dignifying it with a direct response; 2. He reveals to His disciples and others drawn to His message what Satan’s cards are (what methods and strategies he is using to deceive them) and 3. He (along with His righteousness) is the source and standard of authority out of which stemmed both the Law and the scriptures; not the other way round. Do not put the Lord your God to the test…with this statement He definitively separates Himself from all the expectations that scriptural teachings and speculations have proffered about the Messiah. By Jesus refusing to play this self-righteous game He isn’t bound by its rules. Satan is attempting to entice Jesus into playing a personification of a misconception of a Messiah which the Pharisees have been preaching for decades. Playing this role, on one hand, would have been a sweet gig and an easy road for Jesus to travel; but it would have been incompatible with His message of righteousness.
This experience occurred just before Jesus began His tenure of ministry; but in another encounter which happened at the end of His 3 years of ministry He had a head-to-head confrontation with a group of Pharisees wherein they also tried to test Him using scriptures as their yard stick. One sure way of deducing a self-righteous motive is in the way it is presented. If the parameters are pre-determined and pre-defined as originating from God then demands are put upon persons or concepts to measure up to the standards of those parameters; this is a self-righteous gambit—watch out! This is exactly what Satan is doing in all three of the temptations and it’s the same approach the Pharisees used in the many accounts found in the 4 gospels relating to Jesus being tested by the Pharisees. In their persistence of using this strategy; we can deduce that the Pharisees were quite enamored with the self-righteous perspective of God and were looking for a Messiah to fill those self-righteous shoes! In the end, Jesus wasn’t their guy.
If you have a question or a comment about this or other postings please feel free to send them in. As usual, thanks for reading.
TBC: Before January 01, 2017