This morning as I read through Luke 4:1-13 The temptation of Jesus I was struck by the tactics and means the devil uses to try and bring us down.
His first point of attack was physical temptation. Jesus was hungry, he had been without food for 40 days and was weak because of it and the Devil tempts him with the suggestion of bread. I like to think physical temptation doesn’t hold much for me in this world, I’m not fussed about most material trappings – she says sitting in her warmly furnished home with full cupboards and the lack of little. Would I still be so sure if it was all taken away from me.
Not getting very far as Jesus stands firm, the devil brings out his next offering. Prestige and honour – offering him “authority and splendour” . This is more my language, keep your bread but a tidbit of praise and a quick massage of my ego – yep you’ve got my attention. But I’ve done this circuit before, and actually I’ve learnt it’s pretty empty and brings no satisfaction beyond a second or two. Yes, I’m tempted but you can keep that one too Satan – I’ve tasted better things and by the grace of God I’ll forgo this round.
Then comes the powerful blow. Physical temptation and the offer of prestige and honour getting nowhere, the devil starts fighting dirty and questions our identity. “If you are the son of God” “Surely God will protect you” – Oh this one hurts. The doubt, the questions. Why didn’t God stop that? Why did that happen? If I was God’s child surely I wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t. What if I’m not….. I’ve taken a few blows from this one and so like a hound with the scent of blood it’s where the devil will home in on when I’m feeling frail. And so I stand and I declare “ABBA, I BELONG TO YOU.” You see Satan, My Father loves me and is awful fond of me – and along with your bread, and your prestige, you can keep your doubting questions because my identity is secure, I’m Abba’s child.