Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying 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, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” —Matthew 4:5-7
I love to be just a bit daring – not too daring – just a bit. I like to ski, fast. I enjoy riding my motorcycle with the wind at my face and the concrete pavement under my feet. I like to hike in the mountains, getting fairly close to the edge.
I also enjoy doing things like mission trips to developing nations, or hiking alone with a backpack across Israel, or traveling to Egypt to retrace Moses’ life even as the nation is in a bit of turmoil.
These things all come with risks. I try to calculate the risk, and to minimize it by wearing a helmet when I ride my cycle, or avoiding locations that are too dangerous. But I’m always aware that there is risk involved in these things. You can’t avoid some measure of risk in life. Every time I get in my car to drive there is risk involved.
Do I believe that, because I am a Christian, or a pastor, or a tither, or because I carry a Bible in my back pocket every day, that nothing bad will happen to me? No. The laws of physics still apply to Christians, to pastors, to tithers.
I knew a man who died while showing off while driving his very fast car. His friends were angry with God, wanting to know how God could let this happen to him. He was in the prime of his life and he left two children behind and he was a follower of Jesus. But the laws of physics are seldom suspended even for Christians.
And this is part of what I see when the devil suggested that Jesus jump from the pinnacle of the temple. The devil even quoted one of the beautiful Psalms of promise to Jesus: “Jump, Jesus, for the scripture says he protects those he loves; he’ll protect you.” In jumping Jesus could prove to himself, and to all in the temple courts, that he really was the Son of God. But Jesus responded, “It is also written, ‘do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” In other words, I am not counting on God to suspend the laws of physics, even for me.
Jesus, at times I’ve been confused by the tragedies that happen in our world. I want you to suspend the laws of nature and to protect those I love. Yet I see that even you did not expect this from the Father. Help me to live wisely, and to trust that in living and dying I will belong to you. Amen