- 8 March 2022
- Stuart Robinson
I was very pleased to see that Richard Harris and Craig Challen were jointly named Australians Of The Year, two or so years ago.
Harris, an anaesthetist and diver from Adelaide, and Challen, a champion cave-diver from Wangara, Western Australia, were part of the global team that freed the trapped Wild Boars football team in July 2018.
The men stayed in the underwater Tham Luang cave system for three days, swimming multiple kilometres in hazardous conditions.
Harris swam the length of the cave system, performed medical checks on the children and administered anaesthetic to each of them.
Challen then transported the children to safety, and the two men worked together to ensure all 12 escaped unharmed.
Challen and Harris could be trusted because they themselves knew the terrain and they knew the risks – they’d been through it – and they were appropriately equipped (by way of experience and technology) to make that journey.
I put it to you that Jesus is trustworthy and true (to lead and to deliver those in his care) because he himself knows the terrain – and was and is appropriately equipped to make the journey.
We read this in Hebrews 4:15 (where Jesus is referred to as our ‘high priest’): ‘We do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one – who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin.
Yes – Jesus knows the terrain and he knows the risks – he’s been through it….and he made the journey because he was appropriately equipped (so to speak):
He was filled with and empowered by the Spirit of God (Luke 4:1,14), the Holy Spirit.
He was steeped in the Word of God (Luke 4:4)
The Bible makes it very clear that the ‘evil one’, the devil, is seeking to disrupt the purposes of God and sully and discredit the name of Christ
Jesus’ friend Peter describes the devils’ corrosive work thus, ‘be alert and of sober mind; your enemy the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour…resist him standing firm in the faith’. I Peter 5:8,9.
And that was Jesus’ experience in Luke 4.
The devil sought to devour him…to distract him from his appointed course – the cross and death; the means by which people are released from bondage to sin and Satan’s oppressive rule.
I put it to you – that Jesus was equipped to withstand the evil one because first, he was filled with and empowered by the Spirit of God.
You’ll recall that at his baptism (recorded in Luke 3:21,22), God the Spirit – descended upon him and the voice of God the Father confirmed that he was God the Son, ‘you are my Son whom I love, with you I am well pleased’.
Jesus’ identity and status – as the beloved Son – is reaffirmed in his water and Spirit baptism.
As a result, Jesus is not fazed when the devil cynically casts doubt on his identity and authority as the Son of God (and as such the evil one besmirches the integrity of God the Father, who sends the Spirit and commissions the Son).
And the evil one, the devil, employs the same strategy against the people of God; you may have heard his deceptive voice:
- Do you really believe that your sin is forgiven…especially when you keep repeating your folly?!
- God promises to meet your needs, but can he really be trusted…look after ‘number one’…’
- Are you sure that your prayers are even being heard – look what’s happening in the Ukraine and in flooded parts of Australia…why would God listen to you; who do you think you are, anyway?
- Whatever you do, keep this following Jesus business a secret lest your friends and colleagues think you’ve lost it!!
The temptation is to let doubt and fear erode our confidence in the character and promises of God.
Those lies will do us in if we are not clear regarding our identity and status.
Here’s the deal: The moment we place our trust in Jesus we are:
-saved from judgement and death (Romans 10:9)
-transformed, animated, and inhabited by the Spirit of God (John 3:3),
-forgiven our sins and put right with God (John 3:16),
-adopted in God’s family as his precious children; he is now our Heavenly Father (Romans 8:15) and as such
-we are heirs, co-heirs with Jesus, beneficiaries of God’s mercy and grace now and into eternity (Romans 8:17).
Saved, transformed, forgiven, adopted, loved and blessed.
That’s who we are; there are no barriers to us enjoying fellowship and friendship with our Heavenly Father. None.
Let me illustrate this:
In 1866 a returning Union soldier desperately sought and appointment with Abraham Lincoln with a view to having his old farm – expropriated by the army – returned.
The poor fellow was turned away by the sentries on duty and was told not to come back.
A small lad approached this now weeping soldier – and after he’d heard the soldier’s tragic story said, ‘follow me’. The soldier dutifully though bemusedly complied…past the sentries they went, through the doors and right into Lincoln’s study.
‘What is it son?’ enquired Lincoln of nine-year-old Thomas (or ‘Tad’ as he affectionately called him). ‘Father, this man needs your help. Please listen to him.’
Tad knew who he was and whose he was; he had neither fear nor hesitation in coming into his father’s presence with his concerns and requests. There was no question concerning his identity or his status or of his father’s willingness to listen and to respond in an appropriate manner.
Of our privileged state, God declares (as recorded in Psalm 91) – ‘When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them, and I will honour them’.
Second and briefly, Jesus was able to withstand the temptations and chicanery of the evil one because he was steeped in the Scriptures.
The children’s song underscores the point I want to make with profound simplicity:
The best book to read is the Bible
If you read it every day, it will help you on your way
Oh, the best book to read is the Bible!
St. Paul offered a more sophisticated version in his correspondence to his mentee, Timothy, “The Holy Scriptures are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may thoroughly equipped for every good work”. II Timothy 3:16-17.
And that is exactly what takes place in Jesus’ interchange with Satan.
Jesus is thoroughly acquainted with the word of God such that he sees through the devils lies and half truths and is able to rebuke and correct him – and then go on to complete the good works for which he was equipped and to which he was called.
The Scriptures – we are reminded – are God-breathed – they are the codified mind and character of God.
If we want to discern the will and purposes of God – and avoid the snares and distractions of the evil one, we need to spend time (and there are no shortcuts) learning and digesting his word.
And that is true for any relationship.
This year Jane and I will have been married for 36 years. We certainly know each other better than we did when we stood before the Priest on these very steps in 1984. Time spent together, listening, learning, sharing, growing – enables us to know better the mind of the other.
As the one we follow was steeped in the Scriptures – so too must we in order to deal with temptation and advance the Kingdom.
Here are three:
- When tempted to believe that forgiveness is beyond our reach, or ‘here I am yet again, bringing those same matters before the Lord’ remember this, I John I:8,9,7 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness…the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”.
- Luke 6 reminds us that open handed (even costly) generosity is a clear sign that we have grasped God’s kindness and provision to us…and that we will trust and honour him with the resources and gifts he had given us. Jesus said, 35 Love even your enemies. Do good to them. Give to them without expecting to get anything back. Then you will receive much in return. And you will be children of the Most High God. He is kind to people who are evil and ungrateful”.
- Though it may feel awkward or socially incorrect we will not be dissuaded from sharing the good news of the One who is able to empathise with our weakness and who (through his death and resurrection) enables us to know and enjoy a friendship with our Heavenly Father. We will be Romans 10:14 Christians – who proclaim through word and deed, God’s love for people in Christ.