Tuesday March 7, 2023
IF YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus already had his identity questions answered—and he didn’t need the devil or a crowd to affirm it. He knew who he was. What does it mean that Jesus is the Son of God, and what does that have to do with us living in the fullness of our own vocation—our own calling—in God?
In the baptismal waters of Luke 3, Jesus is named by the Father. “This is my Son.” There is no gray area here, no “sort of” or “possibly” statements to diminish the impact of the words.
Jesus is the Son of God. He knows he is the Son of Man. He grew up like the rest of us did. But Son of God? It has just been doubly, triply confirmed in his baptism, before his ministry has begun. “Son” is the title the Father gave him, reminded him of, held out for all to hear.
Now, in this verse of Luke 4, that is the very title that the devil goes after with an if/then statement.
The first goal of the enemy is to put a question mark where there was a period inside of Jesus. See it this way from the enemy: “Son of God?” Our inner spiritual punctuation matters. In this case, though the devil words the sentence differently, an unspoken question mark is following his title of Jesus “If you are the Son of God.”
It’s like the devil was saying, “If you are the Son of God (and I wonder how you could really think you are given that you are hungry, thirsty, hot, sweaty, about to be hated, and on the outside of civilization), then tell . . .” There is a second important idea going on here. The embodiment of evil is giving Jesus a command. If the Son of God does what the devil wants and deigns to fulfill the suggestion, then another quiet battle is won for darkness. It would mean the Son of God capitulated to the request, the suggestion, the “bright” idea of the prince of darkness.
It’s a power game. I question your identity as soon as you receive it, and I get you, subtly, to do my will in one small increment. That’s the perfect recipe for eventual enslavement.
Jesus will have none of it. He knows that the Father has named him “My Son”—and he is not about to let the enemy erase it from his business card with a question mark and a suggestion he make bread.
Jesus already had his identity question answered—and he didn’t need the devil or a crowd to affirm it. He knew who he was. No crowd would court his favor from that point on; he had no one to impress and everyone to save.
The Lord has called you and me by name. We have identity in the Father. and just as we are reveling in our belovedness and favor with God, the enemy is right there to try to steal our identity from us. Daily. Know who you are, reaffirm it in prayer, spiritual practices, and mental habits—and don’t waver from your identity.
You are a child of God. The enemy will challenge that identity, that well-defined role and vocation (yes, being a covenant child of God is your and my primary calling in life) right out of the gate through which it was just affirmed.
Jesus didn’t need the enemy to affirm his Sonship; nor did he need any crowd to do the same. “Son of God,” for Jesus, was followed by the punctuation mark of a period. It was a done deal. The enemy’s question mark had no soft place to land.
Do the enemy’s taunts about your identity in Christ have a soft landing place, a welcome hooking spot? What could you do to change that?
Lord of the Wild, we have a name you’ve given us, and we’re not about to sacrifice it when the enemy repeats it back to us with a question mark. We trust in what you’ve said about our sonship or daughterhood over any voice that sells us an alternate identity. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Songs for the Wilderness
First 15 through the season of Lent is adapted from Jesus in the Wild: Lessons of Calling for Life in the World available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Lenten study, you can find more information here or send an email to email@example.com.
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