My husband and I read a devotion the other night based on Matthew 4:1-11. Just to sum it up, if you’re not familiar with it, this is when Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days to fast and pray. Satan tried to take advantage of his physically and mentally weakened state by tempting Him in many ways. Obviously, Jesus did not succumb to the temptation. But that’s not what struck me about this devotion. That’s what I’ve always known about it.
Here’s what stirred me. Jesus, being God’s son, had the power to call down any power from heaven to “defend” against temptation. He could have summoned angels. He could have called down God himself. He could have caused the earth to swallow Satan up. But he didn’t. He did something that I can do in any and every day of my life. He said, “It is written…” followed by Scripture and that gave Him the victory. Jesus, who has all power, simply quoted Scripture. And He WON.
I’ve never seen the significance of that before. That story has always been an example of prayer and fasting, an example of how Satan will use God’s word in distorted ways to lead people astray. But never as an example of Christ embracing the human and giving us a standard for when we are tempted. He didn’t just fast. He didn’t just pray. He faced temptation and instead of calling on all of the power of heaven, He chose to give us an example of the power of Scripture. The power of knowing God’s Word. The power of hiding His word in our hearts. The power to overcome any temptation that is put in front of us when we call on Scripture.
He simply said, “It is written…” Each time Satan left him. Each time the power of God’s spoken word alone caused the devil to flee. I think we as Christians have a wonderful habit of quoting Scripture when healing is being sought, when we’re in a desert place, when we’re hurting or uncertain about our future. And those are fantastic habits to have. But what do we do when we face temptation? We tell ourselves that it’s wrong, we fight the urge, that compulsion. But how often to we go straight to God’s word and quote Scripture? How often do we follow the example that Jesus gave us in the wilderness and speak Scripture over the temptation?
As I sit again in awe of Jesus “human” life, I cling tightly to three words that have never meant so much before, “It is written…”