My Jesus experiment has a very clear hypothesis. Jesus Christ gives a rich and satisfying life to those who follow him (John 10:10). Borrowing the words of author, Rob Bell, “Jesus mastered the art of living and invites anyone who would follow him to do the same.” Over the past several weeks, we have been exploring and testing Jesus claim starting with the concept of abiding. It is only through abiding in Jesus that our lives become fruitful. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing (John 15).
A rich and satisfying life requires that we stay connected to Jesus, his teachings and practices. First, we stay connected through fostering a vibrant prayer life. Jesus always stepped away from his public ministry to pray, to talk with God. He understood that cultivating relationship with God was an essential life source. Secondly, Jesus’ vibrant connection to God empowered him to face his fears. Daily, Jesus walked by faith trusting God’s promises and provisions, whether it be for daily bread, a roof over his head or protection from his enemies.
Today, we learn from Jesus how to overcome temptation or evil. The scriptures say that after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist (officially beginning his public ministry) he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. It was in the wilderness that Jesus was tempted by Satan three times and found the strength to persevere. First, Jesus (having not eaten in days) was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread. This is the temptation to meet a legitimate need in an illegitimate way. Our emotional, financial, food or relational needs cannot be met with quick fixes. Though our feeble attempts fail, God meets our needs at the source.
Secondly, Jesus is tempted by Satan to throw himself off the highest point of the temple so God would be forced to save him. Essentially, Jesus’ actions would force God to serve his purposes. Most of us are all to familiar with attempts to manipulate God’s action for a desired outcome. God cannot be manipulated or obligated to bless our plans. Rather, we must always seek humility to entrust our plans to the wisdom of God. Thirdly, Jesus is offered authority over the world by Satan for the small price of his worship and allegiance. Most of us experience temptation to want it all and want it now. We want to be successful professionally, financially, maritally, socially, emotionally and even spiritually… and we want it now. That is not how life or faith works.
Jesus displayed the singular focus of aligning his life with the will of God. Though tempted to compromise along the way, he trusted the promises and provision of the God that he knew. How did he do this? His public life as fueled by a deep, abiding relationship with God. Jesus calls out to his followers, “Abide in me.” Consider, how can you take a step deeper this week?