Sunday, January 20, 2008

Adam vs Jesus: The Temptation Showdown

Don't you love it when quite accidentally you read two bible passages on the same day that teach you about the same thing?? I had that this morning. My normal quiet time habit is to read a chapter of two of the OT and a chapter or two of the NT each morning, and work my way through sequentially each testament in parallel. Last year that meant I got through the OT once and the NT twice. Since the end of last year up until yesterday I'd had a bit of a break by just working through the epistles, reading each in one go where I had time. Yesterday I restarted the OT/NT reading pattern. So this morning I read Genesis 3 and Matthew 4.

Genesis 3 is the story of the Fall of Humanity. Matthew 4 is an account of Jesus' temptation in the desert after His baptism. Both look at the ways we can approach temptation.

In both cases there is DESIRE. Eve was made with a desire to eat and a desire to gain wisdom. Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights so He had a desire to eat. In and of themselves these desires are not wrong, they are healthy.

Next the devil comes along and introduces the LIE. He questions Eve, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" This manipulates her into a response that will highlight not the 99 the trees that she can eat from but the 1 she can't. Her response also falsely exagerates how 'forbidden' it is, "we can't even touch the tree". The devil lies more, appealing to her desire to gain wisdom. Then she saw that "the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom" and so they ate. The LIES here include, what God told you was wrong, He is mean and is trying to hold you back from something that is good. The lies the devil uses do two things, questions the truth about a situation, and questions the loving, good and faithful character of God. When the devil tempted Jesus he raised questions about whether Jesus really was the Son of God, and tried to use Jesus' desire to fulfil His role as the Son of God, and His desire to eat to try and tempt Him. Each time Jesus responded with TRUTH and He did not sin.

This suggests to me the following:


This is the point where the two stories diverge. For Adam & Eve there was a descent into SHAME. This manifested itself in two behaviours HIDING and REFUSAL TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. After they had sinned they realised what they had done, and first of all tried to hide their nakedness (which had not previously been a source of shame between them) from each other, and then when they hear God walking in the Garden they try to hide from Him too. When God calls them out, and asks them if they have eaten the fruit they pass the buck, they refuse to take responsibility for their behaviour. Adam says "The woman you put here with me" - so it was God's fault for giving him "the woman" and "the woman's" fault. Eve says it was the serpent's fault.

As a result of this there are a number of CONSEQUENCES of that sin. Pain in childbirth, desire for the husband who will rule over the woman, the ground is cursed, and death. Ick... Not good. But God also says some other stuff. In verse 15 when God is talking to the serpent about what he has done, God makes the first messianic promise, His PROMISE OF DELIVERANCE. He foretells when one of the offspring of Eve will crush Satan's head. God also has GRACE on them and provides them with better coverings than the fig leaves they had sewed together, by providing animal skins. In this way demonstrating that the shedding of blood is required for forgiveness.

In contrast after Jesus had stood against each of the devil's temptations, "...the devil left him, and angels came and attended him" (v. 11). God met Jesus' needs when the time was right. God is faithful, one of the lies the devil uses is that if we don't take care of ourselves in accordance with our perceived needs that God won't and nobody else will either.

I was thinking about each step in the Genesis 3 account and how good God has been to provide instruction on how to deal with each step or how God has already dealt with it:

I also noted with some interest that Jesus' temptation comes right after a SPIRITUAL HIGH for Him. At the end of Mt 3, Jesus is baptised and a voice is heard from heaven saying "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (v.17). This is interesting for a couple of reasons, firstly this temptation is not because God is displeased with Jesus, or that He didn't love Him. Secondly, was the temptation an attempt from the devil to undo the good that what God had said to Jesus had done in His life? This seems plausible as the first thing the devil says to Jesus is "If you are the Son of God...", he questions the very thing that God has just said to Jesus.

The other thing that was interesting contexually to the temptation story is that immediately following the temptation Jesus starts His public MINISTRY. In chapter 4, verses 12-17 he starts preaching, in verses 18-22 he calls His first disciples and in verses 23-25 he heals the sick. This leads me to wonder, what would have happened if Adam & Eve had not eaten the fruit, if they had withstood the temptation? What amazing things would God have done in their lives following that?

This lead me to: "For if, by the trespass of the one man [Adam], death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. " Romans 5:17 and "The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven." 1 Corinthians 15:47-49.

So we've seen how to deal with lies, the devil and temptation through two examples; that of Adam & Eve and that of Jesus. I know which I think is the better way :-)

God bless,

1 comment:

Peace said...

Bec, thanks for you thoughts expressed here . . . my thoughts cover alot of similar territory to yours ... anyway blessing to you ... Geoff Sydney