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Monday, September 8, 2008

Desperation and temptation

My quiet time this morning was in Matthew 4. I had an interesting thought after reading about Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. Satan tries hard to take advantage of us when we are tired, hungry, and alone. I've recognized this personally, and there it was in the account of Jesus' temptation. When I reach the bottom emotionally and physically, Satan's plans tend to sound pretty good, and I catch myself justifying temptation. I try to rationalize my way through the situation and examine my own thoughts and conscience - which of course is flawed by selfishness. Instead, Jesus just lays it all out against scripture. Scripture is always right. Anytime that my bright ideas are not lined out with scripture, that is not God's voice talking in my head. Sometimes I face temptation with desperation, and I panic. Jesus seemed to have a better plan.

Now - I don't know that any of that was new, but here's the new thought that I had. Sometimes I have been in situations where I am too tired, or drained, or whatever, to even think through or rationalize my actions. I wondered if that was where Jesus was emotionally on that day. Today when I read this account, I seemed to see some different emotions than I ever have before. Maybe Jesus quoted scripture because that was the only truth he could hang onto that day. I guess from Sunday School I always thought that Jesus had this temptation thing really well under control, (after all, He was God), but maybe, just maybe, there was more desperation in his voice than I ever heard before.

Rereading this, I'm not sure that I have done a good job explaining myself. But here's the bottom line. Rereading the account of Jesus' temptation made me think that he understands desperation in the face of temptation. And he handled it with the only truth that is certain. He did not trust even his own wisdom and understanding. He used scripture instead. If he needed to use scripture, maybe I should not feel so ashamed when I cannot rationalize my way out of temptation in my own strength. I guess it made me feel some relief that it was hard for Jesus, too.

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