Happy New Year everyone! Our first series of 2013 is a study of the book of Matthew. We actually began working our way through this gospel during Christmas and are continuing on through the book.
Today’s focus is on Matthew 4:1-11, the initiation of Jesus’s ministry and his temptations in the desert. Before we focus on the specific temptations Jesus faced, let’s first clearly acknowledge the state of the world we live in. There are two realms in our reality, one physical, the other spiritual. We are in the midst of spiritual battles on a daily basis, independent from our recognition. Every time an inclination to act a negative impulse, we are being tempted. Each temptation is much larger than a red devil whispering in your left ear while Bugs Bunny whispers in your right. Spiritual warfare operates using the same strategic moves as physical war, temptation is a direct attack from one side on the other. Since you are directly associated with God, being his creation, you are in Satan’s cross-hairs. As your relationship with your maker grows tighter, the target on your back grows larger. Unfair, you might think? Are we just collateral damage in a spiritual war, targeted simply because we were born? Combat tactics. Satan knows that by subduing a person who is overtly associated with his enemy, he can generate “recruits” (people who vehemently reject God due to the failure of their peers).
This experience of temptation is not unfamiliar to God. Jesus faced temptation during his physical life, the same as we do. Unlike us, he faced them all successfully, never succumbing to Satan’s tease. Understanding this is imperative to embracing a personal relationship with Jesus because it affirms that he is a person. In today’s passage, Satan tempts Jesus in three specific areas; physical needs, personal security, and his status as Messiah. With a series of perries and thrusts, Jesus rejects each enticement and exits the desert holding his head high, integrity unscathed.
I went and saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with my wife and sister during the Christmas holiday, and begun reading the novel on my new tablet. Julie and I are working our way back through the Lord of the Rings trilogy now as well. With Tolkien on the brain, I chose to represent our tempter the same as he in today’s drawing; the dragon’s eye in the background.
The second reference in today’s drawing comes from a song released by Clay Crosse in 1997 entitled ‘He Walked a Mile in My Shoes’. The song is a story of Jesus’s relationship to us, taking our place to pay the debt we incurred to God by turning our back on him. I helped lead and perform a dramatic interpretation to this song with a group in college that consistently resonated with our audiences. With that song and skit in mind, I created the foreground for the drawing. An old, worn, ragged pair of Chuck Taylors.
Whatever temptations you face now, or will cross your path in 2013; he’s walked a mile in your shoes. He’s been there, he’s shown us the patience, self-control, and forethought required to stand strong in those situations and offers them to us. It’s now your responsibility to take hold and use them.