Friday, August 16, 2013

Cliff Notes

The Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. 

At his baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove. Now, the same Spirit is leading Jesus into a face-to-face showdown with Satan. These adversaries are not dressed in dark suits, their skin perfectly made-up for stage lights, as they orate from behind mahogany lecterns. There is no strict protocol. Robert's Rules of Order will not be enforced, assuring a fair and civilized debate. No, the Son of Man is covered in the dust of the barren land he has been treading, and his skin is burned and bronze. For forty grueling days he has been alone in the desert fasting. His stomach, shrunken to the size of a tennis ball, is completely empty. An indescribable fatigue is his, because each night, as he laid down to rest, wild animals stalked him from just beyond the glow of his flickering campfire.

Satan, the darkest of evil's darkness, the wildest of wild beasts, was Jesus' opponent, and his diabolical strategy to derail Messiah from the outset revolved around the little word "If." The Evil One, knew that the Incarnate One was also the second Adam, so he shrewdly by-passed Jesus Divinity and zeroed in on his weary humanity. "You are hungry? If you are the Son of God, then turn those stones into bread... You are loved? If you are the Son of God, leap from this edifice erected to worship Him. If your Father loves you, make Him prove it! Finally, upon a mountainside cliff, Satan offered, "If you will worship me, all you can see, I will give you. I can put you on the fast-track. Have you Looked at your ragged self?"

If was the key. The Master of Deception had no concern, whatsoever, as to the beliefs Jesus held, as long as he doubted the most important of all--his eternal identity, and that he was dearly loved by his Father...

This is where our spiritual battles are won or lost--in these Cliff Notes, if you will. The Darkness will subtly whisper, "Believe anything you want--except the truth." All the while he is trying to find a place for doubt. Satan doesn't care who we trust, as long as it isn't God. He doesn't care what we think about our selves, as long as we reject the identity God has given us. His goal is simple--exchange the certainty of the I AM, for the uncertainty of the What Ifs.

Jesus succinctly and unflinchingly responded. "Get out of here, Satan. For the Scriptures say, 'You must worship the LORD your God and only serve Him.'" So must we...

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