The divine end
For reading & meditation: Philippians 3:1-14
“‘ that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings ‘” (v.10, RSV)
If the first temptation contained elements designed to prevent Christ from returning to humanity as the Son of Man, then the second temptation might be seen as an attempt to get Him to take a different attitude to men. Was the devil saying: “If you must go back, then do not take the attitude You took when You began. Don’t stand alongside man, but stand on the pinnacle of the Temple. Be worshipped, be honoured and respected. Your place is up there, not down among those wretched multitudes”? A similar temptation will come to you, too. Satan will say: “Stay above all this talk of going down into death; escape the pain by remaining above it. You can descend to help men and women, but then let the angels carry you back to your exalted position.” Then came the subtle third temptation, which seemed to suggest this: “If You are determined to be the Son of Man and to be one with men, then adopt humanity’s methods – fall down and worship me. If You are going to be like them, be like them in everything, and take a similar attitude to those who obey me.” Jesus refused this way too. He would be the Son of Man and let everything that falls on men fall on Him. But there would be this difference – He would reach the divine end only by means of the divine method, and by doing the will of His Father in heaven. At that point, He put His feet upon the way that He knew would lead ultimately to the cross. No temptation would divert Him from that. And no temptation must divert you and me either.
O Father, help me to do with temptation what Jesus did with it – to use it to reinforce my readiness to do Your will. I am so thankful that Your tests are not meant to catch me out, but to spur me on. Help me to meet every test – triumphantly. Amen.
For further study:
1. What 7 steps of trusting are in Psalm 37?
2. What are the 5 results of trusting?