Tried and tested
By MARGARET KILLINGRAY
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting.. he was hungry. The tempter said, If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. Jesus answered, It is written: Man does not live on bread alone. Matthew 4:1-4
Our choices test us and most of us have a great deal of choice. We make small ones in supermarkets and in front of televisions, with holiday brochures and charity appeals. But sometimes we make big choices about finance, career, lifestyle, relationships and status and some of these shape our lives and are hard to go back on. What are the right choices?
At the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus was tested and proved. He had to make choices that laid down the parameters of his messianic vocation, that developed his understanding of how his role and purpose would be worked out in obedience to Gods plans. His responses referred back to Deuteronomy chapters 6 and 8, because his mission, fulfilling the failed purposes of Israel, was the culmination of salvation history.
But he was tested in all points just as we are, so how do we learn from Jesus experience in the desert. First, we can recognise similarities to the pressures we face. If we have the means to provide ourselves with material and aesthetic comfort, do we assume that that is a reasonable criterion for choosing? Do we test God by expecting him to protect us and reward us, even when we act irresponsibly? Do we compromise our integrity for political and financial advantage?
Second, we can see how he handled these crucial choices. He had developed a deep, biblical understanding of the purposes of God he was to fulfil on earth. He spent time fasting and praying alone, away from the pressures of daily life before he had to make decisions. And he, understanding what it means to fight these battles, sends his Spirit to lead us, and his angels to minister to us when each battle is over.