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Lenten Reflections Project 2022

Wednesday | March 9 | Dave McFadzean

Matthew 4:5-7

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, "He will command his angels concerning you," and "On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Implicitly we seem to know why Christ refused this challenge from the devil.  Though Satan cloaked his request in messianic scripture, it smacks of performing a circus act or a magic trick. And Christ knew that to establish his authority on such a spectacular event would set a pattern that requires new and more amazing stunts.  Faith based on miracles alone is really doubt looking for bigger and better proofs, but never quite being satisfied in the long term.  It’s like the magician who understood that if he was going to be successful, he would have to change his audience or change his tricks.

It’s also interesting that Christ was not being asked to do something beyond his ability.  I have no doubt he could have thrown himself off the pinnacle with easy confidence. And that is often the case when we are tested.  The devil likes the odds tipped in his favor, so does not ask us to do something we are not suited to do, he simply convinces us to use our gifts. not for God’s glory, but for our own.

So, how does Christ respond?  With scripture.

"You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”   

Clearly testing God, as the devil presents it,  reveals an undercurrent of doubt rather than a confidence in the efficacy of  God’s word, in God’s time, with God’s help.

* David McFadzean is a founding partner in Wind Dancer Films which produces film and TV.  In his past he has been everything from a bus driver to college professor to puppeteer and train robber at Santa Claus Land Amusement Park in Southern Indiana. He and his wife Liz have two children and five grandchildren.