“For the third test the devil took Him to Jerusalem and put Him on top of the Temple. He said, “If you are God’s Son, jump. It’s written, isn’t it, that “He has placed you in the care of angels to protect you; they will catch you; you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone”?’

“‘Yes,’ said Jesus, ‘and it’s also written, “Don’t you dare tempt the Lord you God.”‘

“That completed the testing. The devil retreated temporarily, lying in wait for another opportunity.” Luke 4:9-13.

How stupid could he be? One thing the devil did not realise – he was not showing Jesus up. He was showing himself up! Did he really think that Jesus would fall for this one? After all, who made the rules?

But there is something more subtle in this test than trying to defy gravity. The devil was questioning the very foundation of Jesus’ authority. What God says is a manifestation of who God is. When He speaks, He places Himself under the authority of His own Word because He and His Word are one.

Before Jesus ever stepped out into public ministry, He had to settle this one. He was the “Word made flesh”; the living, breathing, acting embodiment of what God had spoken. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He also made the universe.” Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV).

Since it was through Jesus that God spoke the universe into existence, and all the laws by which the universe is held together and functions as a unit, Jesus was in perfect oneness with His own word. Did the devil really think that God would overturn His own word to save a foolish man from trying to defy gravity?

But there is something even deeper than that. By manipulating God’s word for His own ends, would He be trying to impress the many people present in the Temple at that moment that He was their Messiah? Was that the way to earn their allegiance? Jesus knew better than that!

It would not be His death by suicide but His death by sacrifice that would bring about God’s purpose to rescue the world from the clutches of the devil and restore them to their rightful place as sons and daughters in His family.

It was God’s way to work through the normal processes of life, including hatred and rejection, to bring about the salvation of the human race, and not through some death-defying act of stupidity at the instigation of a known liar! What guarantee could the devil give that God would overturn gravity for Jesus?

The question was: Would Jesus manipulate His Father by holding Him to His Word, especially applied out of context, or would He place Himself under that Word, no matter what the outcome for Him?

We already know the answer to that one. “…He was heard because of His reverent submission.” Hebrews 5:7 (NIV); “‘Abba, Father,’ He said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'” Mark 14:36 (NIV).

The result of the testing was a resounding victory for Jesus and a tail-between-the-legs thrashing for the devil! Jesus was now a tried-and-tested Son, ready to take up His mammoth task because His modus operandi had been established. It was quite simple, really – exactly what was expected of Him – submission and obedience – do what the Father says!

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Luella Campbell

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