This week, I am writing on Luke 22, The Plot to Kill Jesus. Back in January, I wrote the post entitled “Why?”. It was about the same message about Judas’ betrayal and being filled by Satan, the Last Supper and his powerful words we use every Sunday during communion, praying at the Mount of Olives while the disciples slept, his betrayal and arrest, mocking him, Peter’s denial, and Jesus going before counsel. After writing about Matthew 23, my oldest son said “you didn’t really write much about temptation or denial”. Both are pretty big concepts. Let’s take one at a time.
Temptation: There are many references to temptation in the bible. Temptation comes when we are drawn away from what is believed. The more common examples include: Eve in the Garden of Eden, Jonah running away from what God asked him to do, this example from Luke 22: 3-6, Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness and then the foretelling of the denial: Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.
As humans, we are tempted in “thought, word and deed” on a daily basis. Satan tempts us yet we are given tools to overcome this temptation. We are given stories to help us understand how others overcame (or didn’t) temptation. We are given strict instructions in our ten commandments. All this foundation is meant to keep us strong, to build us up and to send us out into the world every day. We still can be tempted to respond back to harsh words, to spend money on frivolous items, or even to “take a day off” from church.
Another angle of temptation shared by Pastor Brian Goke had an interesting twist to temptation that was very relevant to our family. His message had to do with being tempted to listen to others. You aren’t good enough. You don’t have the skills we need on our team. You aren’t smart enough. You don’t look the part. You fidget too much. Only God knows your purpose in life. He made you unique, one of a kind. He knows your boundaries. No one else does. So don’t be tempted by people telling you “you can’t”. It was a great message for my kids – they can do anything they want and be anything they want to be. It equally applies to adults. You still can grow, decide to take on a new career, and learn a skill you never have before. Don’t listen to the negativity of others who are trying to tear you down. God is in charge.
If we go back to Judas, he wasn’t strong enough or didn’t believe enough to take the stand against Satan. He was consumed by the potential power he could receive by betraying Jesus. If he could turn him in, he would have the notoriety within society that he was “the one”. He would receive fame and fortune. Or so he thought.
Even Peter was tempted to deny Jesus. With his denial three times, he too was tempted and caved in the heat of the moment. Even though he was viewed as the leader of the disciples, he showed his weakness and fear. He had been through a whirlwind 24 hours from the Last Supper, to falling asleep in the garden while Jesus was praying, to seeing Jesus hauled away, to understanding that Jesus’ death was ultimately happening just as it was foretold, to being on the street and being questioned. He feared what would happened to himself. Would he be hauled away like Jesus was? Would Peter be killed?
Easy to say what Peter should have done, looking back on it now. Prayer was needed. Peter needed strength, gained from knowing and believing God’s word. He needed guidance and clarity from getting down on his knees and praying. Something all of us can do to help us stay strong through temptation. Unfortunately, temptation will continue for us whether it is caving into a demand, overindulging, or listening to someone’s negative voice. We can be strong though as we know God is with us.
Our prayer: …and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.