Pastor's Blog

Battling Temptation

“The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you Satan.’” Matthew 4:3, 10

I have always been a fan of the writings of J. R. R. Tolkien. His classic trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, is one of my favorite literary series and a set of books I have read through at least five times. The prequel, The Hobbit, is not only a popular favorite but a recent movie. In preparation for seeing the movie, I have reread the book and made sure both my children have read it also. It is always better to see the movie after having read the book.

One of the pivotal sections in The Hobbit is the contest of riddles between Bilbo the Hobbit and Gollum, the creature living by the lake underneath the mountain. They test their skill at riddles and Bilbo only barely escapes with his life and also his magic ring.

A confrontation between two foes is a frequent theme in history and literature. A key moment in the battle of Troy was the confrontation between Hector and Achilles. In the wild west, it was the gunfight between two gunslingers. Luke had to face Darth Vader and Harry Potter finally came face to face with Voldemort. In these kinds of confrontations, it is person against person. There is no one to help. There is no place to turn. The battle will turn on your own strength, wits, intellect, and will.

Such is the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. It is a battle of two strong foes. God does not step in to shield Jesus from this moment. God does not stand visibly to the side, just in case Jesus needs help. It is Jesus and Satan locked in mortal combat. Their wills are set against each other to see who is the strongest and only one will emerge the winner.

Jesus prevails. The importance of this cannot be overstated. Jesus will not give one inch to the devil. He will not allow him any quarter. The devil’s wiles will not sway Jesus in any way from his appointed task. Satan goes away thoroughly defeated, though he will try again, when the time is right. But never will Satan win against Jesus. The devil’s ultimate defeat will be on the cross where his power will once for all be broken.

The Bible says that Jesus is able to help all those who are tempted. Because he has been tempted, he both understands and has resources to help those in need. Our strength in temptation is that the one who is in us, Christ our Lord, is stronger anyone. The battle does not completely turn on our own strength and will. We have help.

With Warm Regards,

Bob Bohler