BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #11

How does one tempt the Lord your God?

In Matthew 4, Jesus Christ under went some very harsh temptations by the devil after he had spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness. In one of those temptations, Jesus was supernaturally transported to the very top of the Temple the height of which was about 4 stories high. The devil then enticed him…

“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” [Matt 4:5,6]

But then Jesus replied with this statement.

“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ “ [Matt 4:7]

In an older translation, it reads, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’ [KJV]

So, if Jesus did step off the precipice as the devil encourage, how would he be tempting God?

The truth of the matter is that the devil was right in saying that God could easily command His angels in keeping Jesus safe.

We saw this when an angel protected him when he was just a fetus in Mary’s womb. Mary would have been stoned to death if it were not for an angel revealing the truth to Joseph who claimed her as his legitimate wife. We also saw this when Jesus was a new born baby and it was an angel that protected him from being killed by Herod. There were probably many more untold instances of angels protecting Jesus as he grew up.

But I dare say that that protection was specifically there because Jesus had one goal in his earthly life and that is to die on the cross as a man with no sin at all.

What would have happened if Jesus decided to throw himself off that high ledge for whatever reason? He would have SINNED and be exactly as flawed as you and I! Would God still have angels protecting him? We (including the hypothetical Jesus that sinned) would never know! And this is the whole point of tempting God.

When a rock climber precariously clings on a cliff wall by just his finger tips or anyone else partaking in any extreme sport, do they not tempt fate/providence? Of course, they do. They knowingly know this. In fact, this is the reason why they do it. They willfully do it for the thrill.

When is this sin, however? When they presume that God will protect them even when there is no proof of divine promises.

By the way, Jesus never gave in to any of the devil’s temptations which you can read more about in Matthew 4.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #2

How, by becoming like little children, can we be saved from eternal damnation?

In Matthew 18, Jesus was approached by his disciples who asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” [vs 1]

It is clear that Jesus saw that pride was behind the question, so, he called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. Then, he said a most astonishing thing.

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matt 18:3]

What is it about little kids that we have to emulate? Is it because of their innocence? Well, legally speaking, no child can be held accountable because they lack the maturity to make cognitive responsible decisions. Innocent, really? Well, I love kids but they do the darndest things that I would not exactly call ‘innocent’. They may have angelic faces, but they can be… haha… such little imps. For example, whenever my wife and I were asked to babysit my brother’s 3 kids, after a week, we always go home declaring that we will not have kids of our own. I was kidding, of course, but even the Bible reveal a not so innocent description of a child’s nature.

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child… [Proverbs 22:15a]

So, again what in little kids was Jesus really referring to?

As a storyteller, I have regaled many little kids with all kinds of tales. I have observed one consistency among them, that they were quick to believe in my stories, even to those that were fantasies. One other thing, they are also quick to be attracted to the hero figures of those stories.

I believe this is the attribute that Jesus wanted us to focus on. We adults have become so complicated in our thinking that we tend to forget the simplicity of what pleases God, a child-like-faith.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. [Hebrew 11:6]