S173P6 – Opportunities taken: a chance for glory

Mt. 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  “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.’”  Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”  Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”  Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

We have heard this passage taught in many different ways, and there are many layers to this interaction.  We know that Jesus was led intentionally by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and we know that his ministry began after this temptation.  Jesus could have focused on his physical circumstances at this time, having been fasted and depleted after 40 days and nights in the wilderness, and He could have succumbed to temptation as a result of this physical weakness.  However, his focus was not on personal satisfaction but on the glorification of his Father.  What He did was seize the opportunity to glorify God through this trial.

The enemy will come at us many different ways when we are trying to walk in what God has planned for us.  He will try to frustrate and distract us when there is something good on the horizon because he does not want us to get there.  We can approach these times of temptation and frustration by thinking “woe is me”, but that self-pity likely will lead to a fall.  The other option is to understand that every circumstance like this is an opportunity to show our spiritual strength and glorify the Father in the process.  When the enemy tries to highlight our physical weaknesses to bring us down, we must rely on our spiritual strength to overcome that.  Every temptation is an opportunity to glorify God.

Perhaps we simply need to reframe how we see those trials which we must endure in this life.  People talk about a positive attitude making such a difference, and I think that sentiment has much truth to it.  The way we view the daily frustrations and temptations of this life will greatly impact how we respond to them.  Those who get caught up in the physical or natural pains will be drawn to the things which alleviate those pains.  Those who focus on the spiritual implications of this life’s process will seek spiritual relief instead.  The first glorifies ourselves; the second glorifies God.  Father, give us the perspective that your Son had during his time of temptation, that we would seize the opportunity to glorify You every time.