The message this past Sunday was on Luke 4:1-13, the “Temptations of Jesus”. A few things about this passage jumped out at me in new ways. Most of us have heard the temptation story before. Jesus is tempted to make bread from stones, worship “the devil” to inherit the world’s Kingdoms, and jump off a wall to test if God will protect him.
Be offended by how fast I’ve just summarized it all, and let your offense make you want to read through them slower.
But two places I’d not spent much time noticing before:
1. Verse 2 says, “where for 40 days he was tempted by the devil.” Then it goes on to say, at the end of the 40 days he was “famished”, and that’s when these famous temptations begin. So for 40 days, Jesus was tempted by the devil in ways we have no record of. Mark 1:13 says the same, “He was in the wilderness forty days tempted by Satan….” Matthew 4:1-2 is less clear about these 40 days, “into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted 40 days….” making it sound like perhaps those days were simply a time of fasting. Whatever happened, it’s clear the part of what happened that God wants us to be aware of is what we have written. Jesus was tempted. These are some pretty big areas, and the devil continues to tempt us in the same manner. We can stand firm against such temptations by the Word of God in our lives.
2. Verse 13 says, “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.” What is “an opportune time”? Looking into the Greek yields no magic or cryptic answer. It means what it says…not 4pm, not 2am…just simply, “an opportune time”. Thus, we see throughout the ministry of Jesus, things happening that attempt to thwart the mission Jesus is there to live and die for. What does this mean for us? I think it’s an important reminder that our tempter will not leave us alone. Here we have Jesus himself overcoming temptation, and instead of saying “aw man, I’ve been defeated”, we have the devil himself not giving up, but merely waiting to approach it again from a different angle.
We stand in the midst of a season of Repentance. We are turning from other things, turning away from the world, turning away from even our selves. We turn toward God. We spend time re-orienting our lives in the context of His Kingdom, New Jerusalem living. But even as we do this, we have not finished, or completely grown out of our need for the Spirit’s help in keeping our gaze fixed steadily on Him.
But there’s a positive side to it. For the word “kairos” found here, is used much more throughout scripture to describe what time it IS. It is Gods’ time. The time of the Kingdom coming. The devil may have to lurk and plan and scheme for an “opportune” moment in time….but the time itself belongs to God. Every moment of every day is “opportune” for the Spirit of God to move. May we live in those moments as often as we breathe…