Friday, April 28, 2017

40 - The Saviour is Tempted

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit up into the wilderness, to be tempted by the Devil.  And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He was afterwards hungry. And when the tempter came to Him, he said, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But He answered and said, It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God." Then the Devil took Him up into the holy city and set Him upon a pinnacle of the Temple. And he said to Him, If you are the Son of God, cast yourself down. For it is written, "He shall give His angels charge concerning You, and in their hands they shall bear You up, lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone." Jesus said to him, It is written again, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me. Then Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve."  Then the Devil left him. And behold, angels came and ministered to Him. Mat. 4:1-11 

Forty Days of Fasting

when He had fasted forty days and forty nights.  While it is unlikely, but probably not impossible, to go without food for forty days, what is interesting about the number forty, in the Bible, is that it is much overused in Bible stories.  Way more than the "law of averages" would allow. 

We know that not every stated fact in the Bible is expected to be taken literally. Some statements and numbers are symbolic.  Writing about Noah's flood, in another blog, I wrote: remembering that numerology was important to Jewish scribes, it is perhaps not surprising that the writer chose the number forty as the length of time it rained. 

Todd Denis and Richard Anthony write: Of all the types and shadows of the Old Testament, none is as pervasive and important as the shadows revealed in the relationship between "forty," and the fulfillment of promises.

For a comprehensive list of the number forty in the Bible I suggest:

Soon after His baptism, Jesus was led, (Mark uses the word driven,) into the wilderness.  Matthew is the only one who says that the purpose for this was so that Christ could be tempted by the Devil. Mat. 4:1. Mark is the only one who mentions the wild beasts. Mark 1:13.

Matthew and Mark write, the Spirit; Some translations do not capitalize the word spirit.  Luke writes the Holy Spirit.  It is difficult to believe that God drove His Son into the wilderness that so that He could tempt his Son.  

As I have written many times, Bible translators frequently add words to the Bible to propagate their own theology.  It seems this is especially true if they can foster the idea of a trinity.  Maybe it was not the "Holy Spirit" that drove Christ into the wilderness but rather His own driving force (spirit).  Perhaps He just needed to be alone to meditate and pray.

Furthermore, it seems unlikely that Jehovah would drive Christ into the wilderness just to tempt Him.  In speaking of Jehovah James wrote, neither tempteth he any man. James 1:13. 
Another vital point that is brought up here is if Christ is God how is it possible that He could be tempted; God cannot be tempted with evil. James 1:13 

After Christ had eaten nothing for forty days the Devil came to Him and tempted Him.  Matthew has a different arrangement of the temptations than Luke does and Mark does not mention them at all.  

Satan Tempts Christ

The areas in which Christ was tempted are familiar to all of us:
  1. Bodily comfort - those of us who have everything we need to live a comfortable life find it very easy to complain if our comfort level drops even a little bit.
  2. Riches - we are willing to destroy our happiness and our relationships so that we can afford more toys or vacations.
  3. Prestige - "climb to the top" and when you get there you see plenty of reasons why you should commit suicide.
  4. Idol worship - our world has gone crazy worshipping movie stars, singers, and sports heroes.  Does the human mind really have nothing better to learn than all the useless trivia about all the screen heroes and starlets? Will it ever matter to anyone who won the 1997 football game?
      This idol worship has gone so far that in the hockey teams in Canada there are two players that are "so good" that one is called "Jesus Christ" and the other is called "God".  And still, the Christian church supports professional sports. 

For each temptation that the Tempter came up with Christ had the appropriate Bible verse with which to refute the Devil.  This may have been because Christ did not spend His time learning all the useless trivia and sports scores.

After Satan had finished tempting Christ in the wilderness, He left Him because Jesus said to him, Go, Satan! Mat 4:10.  However, Luke points out that it was not the last time that Christ was tempted, he says, Satan departed from Him for a time.  Luke 4:13