Desert Showdown

Remember old western movies and television shows? Two cowboys meet and claim, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” So it was in the desert wilderness with Jesus and Satan. Two rulers battled, their ways of rule incompatible. Two kingdoms clashed, their goals irreconcilable. The two could not (and still cannot) coexist on some mutual ground of compromise or agreement to disagree. One had to give way to the other.

The Bible’s authors make it clear; Satan is God’s real enemy, and this author of evil crouches behind every act of evil. (Does this absolve humans of responsibility for the evil they do, for their sin? Absolutely not! We become like what we worship, doing the works of the one we worship.) To provide creation’s rescue and restore the hope of the beginning of the Bible's story, (Genesis 1-2), Satan needed to be dethroned as the “ruler of this world” and his kingdom destroyed, and Jesus had to be enthroned and his kingdom inaugurated.

Here. In Jesus’ wilderness temptation an initial showdown between God (in the Son of God, Jesus) and Satan takes place resulting in Jesus’ initial victory over Satan, making it possible for the Kingdom of God to break through, and to begin making inroads into, the kingdoms of this world. (Read Matthew 12:22-37.)

The temptations offered to Jesus parallel those that the man and woman encountered in the garden and Israel experienced in the wilderness. But Jesus succeeded where man and woman and Israel succumbed. Turn these stones to bread. Jesus refused to be self-sufficient or to use his power and authority forpersonal good. Test God’s protection. Jesus submitted to God-rule, waiting for God’s timing. Worship me, and I will give you the kingdoms of the world. Jesus accepted God’s plans to accomplish the mission for which he had been sent.

In resisting Satan’s temptations, Jesus aligned himself with God rather than with Satan. By doing this, Jesus both robbed Satan of power and showed himself ready for the "salvation" task at hand.

Caged

Have you ever felt caged? 

Picture the scene, you, in a cage. You can’t get out. However, upon looking more closely, you notice the cage door unlocked, even ajar, and the absence of chains restraining you. So it’s not that you cannot get out; it’s that you will not come out. You don’t like being caged, so the obvious question surfaces: Why do you stay in the cage?

The camera lens pans out, revealing more of the scene. Intense lights illuminate the area, but not the good light that chases away darkness and cast out shadows. These are the lights of interrogation. You hear voices, too. From the four corners of the room, four smallish, indistinguishable, beings shout accusations at you. You realize, it's these beings’ accusations that keep you from exiting the cage! 

Suddenly, you see something else, another person in the cage. It’s Jesus. He promises to stay with you, whether you remain in the cage or step out the cage.  

The camera’s view widens again, and this time, what you see stuns you. The perspective reaches beyond the scene’s borders, exposing its parameters. This “scene” is nothing but a set, like a movie set or a stage set. It’s not reality, only a mirage of sorts. 

As long as the camera lens did not widen to capture more of the picture, you believed this to be your true existence—you in a cage, with Jesus, the beings shouting accusations under interrogation lights. But it’s not reality. Oh, you are really in the cage, an unwitting hostage, playing the part of someone they accuse you of being, but not who you really are. And, actually, you permitted the set to be built. With each accusing lie shouted by the beings, which you internalized and agreed with, the little beings drug a piece of the set onto your land. Piece by piece they erected the set around you, until you were caged. 

There is no shame or condemnation in the revelation that you have believe lies, permitting the set to be built. That truth is, oddly, welcomed news and a key to your freedom.

Now, imagine a giant wave engulfs the set. The receding waters reveal a rocky seashore. The set with the cage, interrogation lights, and accusing beings have all been washed away. You stand on a huge rock, Jesus holding you, so you would not be washed away by the wave. You are free! However, Jesus warns the beings will be back, and they will attempt to rebuild the set, piece by piece, with each accusation.

But, you are not a helpless victim. You possess the power and authority to stop them. When you hear one of those accusing lies, if you have eyes to see, you’ll notice a little being dragging a piece of the set onto your land. Tell the being, “No! You don’t speak the truth of who I am, and you cannot put that there.” 

You are not who they say you are.

     You are not what you have done or what has been done to you.

          You are not even who you think you are.

               You are who God says you are…

His beloved, perfected in love, fearfully and wonderfully made,                                              carefully fashioned, unique, cherished, wanted, adopted, full of purpose,                                   beautiful, made in the image of God, worth dying for,                                                                 rescued, redeemed, restored, forgiven, and free.