Saturday, November 24, 2012

You Shall Not Put the Lord To The Test - Matthew 4:5-7 Bible Commentary

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
"'He will command his angels concerning you,' and
"'On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.'"
Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (Matthew 4:5-7)
Our hunger-stricken, yet steadfast Saviour is taken to Jerusalem, the holy city. There the devil sets Him on the pinnacle of the temple.

Thirty years before, Herod the Great tried to kill Jesus (Matthew 2:16). Now Jesus stands high upon the very same temple that Herod, years before, ordered to be built. Herod, now dead, can no longer kill the King of Kings, but the devil is alive and active.

"If you are the Son of God," says the devil, "throw yourself down!" It's as if the devil were saying, "Show me that you truly are divine! Although you are opposed to turning stones into bread, what wrong is there in this request? Just think of all the supposed power that you have! You can command angels to come whenever you wish! You even have a promise in Scripture. For it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and, 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.' So do it! Throw yourself down! Are you not the Son of God?"

Our all-knowing, incarnate Saviour, responds- and his answer is not a leap of "faith" off the temple.

Even in this moment of trial, Jesus does not forget the Scriptures. He knows the devil has ripped Psalm 91 out of context. The intent of Psalm 91 is that the person "who dwells in the shelter of the Most High" receives protection from the Lord (Psalm 91:1). He will be delivered "from the deadly pestilence," not fearing "the terror of the night" (Psalm 91:3,5). Because such a person has made the Lord his dwelling place, it is said of him:
no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:10-12)
Our Saviour, recognizing that the devil had twisted the truth into a lie, responds with a quote from Scripture, saying, "Again it is written, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test'". Christ takes this quote comes from the words of Moses, who said to the people of Israel, "Do not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah" (Deuteronomy 6:16).

Recall that at Massah, the Israelites quarreled with Moses about water (Exodus 17:2). If the people of Israel at Massah asked for water in such a way that they tested the Lord, how much more would our Saviour have tested His Father if He had thrown Himself off the temple? It would violate what He had come to do. He had not come to perform self-exalting miracles; rather, he had come to heal the sick, to give sight to the blind. He came as a humble servant. He came for the cross.

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