Point of Reference
by Fred Price
In an excellent book titled Jesus Mean and Wild1, a number of incidents from Mark’s Gospel concerning Jesus’ behavior are noted; of particular interest for me was His virtual “expulsion” into the desert and His experience with temptation there. (Mark writing in the “common” Greek of his day, a very basic communication with little frills or flowery language; direct, straight-forward, exclamatory conversation.) Matthew and Luke, dealing with this same story, say Jesus was led – as in directed – to the desert to confront the Devil; Mark relating that he was sent or driven (KJ) into the desert. (Sent having the connotation of being compelled, driven being a starker description signifying the urgency with which he was expected to go and face temptation.)
Why do you think that was the case? The writer of Hebrews points out that, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered (On the cross certainly, but I believe throughout his earthly experience as well.) and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him…” Hebrews 5:8,9 He also reveals that, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18 And is therefore able, “...to sympathize with our weakness…”; having been “…tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (Fulfilling all righteousness and setting an example for us to follow. Matthew 3:15)
It was so urgently important that he face the Devil and temptation because to a large extent our salvation depended on it. He couldn’t represent us before God, interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 7:25) and substituting his death for our own; unless he was “unblemished” himself. (1 Peter 1:19; Leviticus 1:3 & Deuteronomy 15:21) As a result of this time of testing, he is more able then to relate to our needs and weaknesses, and come to our aid when we are put to the test by trial, temptation and tribulation. As such, we can more readily identify with him as our Savior and the redeemer of our lives. (Hebrews 9:12)
Deuteronomy records Jehovah referring to the national “testing” of the Israelites through their own experiences in the desert prior to their entering into the promised land. “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert those forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.” Deuteronomy 8:2 (See also Genesis 22:1-19 The crucial difference being – God tests, the Devil tempts. Matthew 4:1-17; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 1 Corinthians 3:13 & 10:13) God sometimes leading – or even possibly driving – us into our own personal desert and time of testing (Proverbs 17:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:4) so we can prove to ourselves more than to him that our faith and conviction is strong; clarifying our thoughts, developing our resolve and crystallizing our purpose. Proving and confirming his faithfulness as well (Malachi 3:10 & 1 John 1:9), fostering confidence in our relationship with him. (Hebrews 4:16)
“Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. (In your own time of testing and temptation.) Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” ICor. 15:58 And how do we accomplish that? By, “…be(ing) strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” (Responding – as Jesus did – with the sword of the Spirit – God’s word. As in, “…it is written…” Matthew 4:4,7 & 10) “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”! Ephesians 6:10-17
1Author Mark Galli, Baker Publishing
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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