As you can see from the various blog entries so far, we are going to be studying the book of Matthew for a while. Today's text is often referred to as the tempting of Christ. In this text, Jesus has just been brought up out of the river Jordan newly baptized and then wanders in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights. It is at this point that Satan shows up on the scene and begins to test Jesus. When we look at the Greek, the original language for the New Testament, we see that the word used is test not tempt. So Satan was not tempting Jesus but instead testing Jesus. What he is testing Jesus about or on? It wasn't mathematics, social studies or science but instead was how Jesus would relate to God. This is all approved by God, because we see that the Spirit was what led Jesus here. So what do we do with this? How do you feel about a God who tests us? Is it fair? Is God just being a jerk?
This story reminds me when I was a student in Nuclear Medicine a the University of Iowa. It was the first week, where we learned to do venipuncture, where we put a needle into the patient so we can give them medicine. Our professor took a few moments and demonstrated the technique on one of my classmates and then it was my turn to try on one of my classmates. I was scared beyond belief when I thought of putting that needle into my friend's arm. After several minutes I finally got the nerve and put the needle very slowly into my friend's Mark arm. No Luck, no blood came back into the needle telling me that I wasn't in. I then twisted the needle around to try again and my instructor came over and told me to take the needle out. I had tears in my eyes, I think it hurt me more than Mark. "Paul, what did I tell you to do? Go in quickly. The longer you take the more it hurts. Don't redirect, unless you know you can hit it again. Sometimes it is better to pull it out and get another needle to try again." I shook my head through my tears. "Remember Paul, you are doing this because you care about somebody else. This test can save their life. So it might hurt a little a first but what comes out in the end more than makes up for the pin prick of the needle." I have lived by these words every since both during my time as Nuclear Medicine technologist and also as a Pastor.
When God tests us, God does it because God cares about us. God is helping us grow closer in relationship to God. Does testing hurt, yes but it doesn't compare where we come out in the end which is a healthier and a closer relationship with God. Where might God be testing you right now? How do you feel about it? How does it feel knowing that even though God is testing you, God is also walking with you through the test?
Pastor Paul. I hope you find these reflections insightful and help you in your faith journey!