The Temptation and the Ten Commandments

A reading for Thursday, May 8, 2014: Matthew 4:1-11.

Those in the Hebrew culture of the first century listening to the story of Jesus tempted by the devil would recognize the story immediately. It is an ancient story. It is the foundational story of all Hebrew people. It is the story found in Exodus 20:1-21 (the Old Testament lesson today).

The Israelites, freed from Pharaoh, are wandering the desert wilderness for forty years. Jesus is drawn out into he desert for 40 days and 40 nights.

The devil tempts Jesus, who is hungry from fasting, with the idea of turning stones into bread. The Israelites wandering the desert are hungry too, and God provided manna which appears each morning. In both cases, trust in God is what delivers.

Satan demands that Jesus worship him, and in exchange promises to give him all that he desires. Moses commands the Israelites to stay faithful to God, even when tempted to return to idol worship. This is the story of the giving of the Ten Commandments, which is the most sacred of God's word given for life and life abundant. Jesus even quotes the first commandment in his response to the devil. "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him."

To the Hebrew ear, and to ours as well, it's clear that Jesus has come as a fulfillment of all God's journey with the people up to this point. This is not some strange idle tale, but is connected in every way to the way God has delivered salvation in the past.

Matthew has reminded us of just who Jesus is. That's the point. This is the Lord our God, the one who delivered us from our enemy, the one that brought us out of slavery. We know who Jesus is, in part because we know the story of Israel...

Just as we have seen God deliver the people from every enemy and every danger in our Holy Scriptures, we trust in God in steadfast love to deliver us through the power of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Almighty God, and the fulfillment of the covenant.

"I the Lord your God am a jealous God... showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments."  (Exodus 20:5)


Popular Posts