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God’s Son? Really?

January 15, 2022

Daily Scripture

Matthew 3:17; Matthew 4:1-11

Matthew 3:17

17 A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.”

Matthew 4:1-11

1 Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. 2 After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.”

4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God” [Deuteronomy 8:3].

5 After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, 6 “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone” [Psalm 91:11-12].

7 Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God” [Deuteronomy 6:16].

8 Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him” [Deuteronomy 6:13]. 11 The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The letter to the Hebrews said Jesus “was tempted in every way that we are, except without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). The temptations Matthew (and Luke—cf. Luke 4:1-13) reported involved doubt about whether he really was God’s beloved son, and if so, what that meant. Could/should he use his powers for his own benefit or stay on a path of service and self-giving? The temptations tugged Jesus to do things that would make his life easier by matching popular hopes about what the Messiah would do. Jesus, loyal to God’s way, didn’t “play to the crowd,” even though that deprived him of applause that might help push away questions or doubts about whether this was truly what God’s Son should be doing. Nor should we think this was a one-time test. Luke ended his account by saying, “The devil departed from him until the next opportunity” (Luke 4:13). With Scripture’s principles shaping his response, Jesus overcame the questions and doubts that might have derailed his ministry.

  • You never have to choose not to turn stones to bread, or avoid throwing yourself off the highest point of the Leawood sanctuary. How are you tempted to use your unique abilities solely for your own benefit, instead of building God’s kingdom by blessing others? How successful are you at resisting temptation and self-doubt? If you don’t like your answer, know that facing inner struggles head-on can defuse them. Ask a gifted counselor or pastor for help. Scholar and pastor N. T. Wright said of the temptations we all face, “They are not simply trying to entice us into committing this or that sin. They are trying to distract us, to turn us aside, from the path of servanthood to which our baptism has commissioned us….as God’s children, we are entitled to use the same defence as the son of God himself. Store scripture in your heart, and know how to use it.” How do you intend to deepen your inner supply of biblical understanding in 2022?

Jesus, son of God, I face temptations every day. Plant the principles of your word firmly in my heart, that, like you, I might stay on God’s path and resist the lure of going my own way. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Angie McCarty

Angie McCarty

Angie McCarty is an ordained elder from the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church and moved to Kansas from Arizona in 2017. She is the Pastor of Senior Adult Ministry at Resurrection Leawood and the part-time pastor at Spring Hill United Methodist Church. She is currently enrolled as a doctoral candidate at Saint Paul School of Theology. Angie is married to Jonathan Bell, who also serves on staff at Resurrection. Together they have six kids, a live-in sister who is active in Matthew’s Ministry, and a totally joyful life.

Did Jesus struggle with temptation? On the surface, the way the gospel writer presents his encounter with Satan, it appears his answers were immediate, decisive, and grounded in Scripture. I’m often surprised that the devil tried to draw Jesus off course a third time, given how strongly Jesus responded to the first two attempts. Maybe he figured the third time would be the charm.

I’ve always been a good kid. Growing up, I rarely got in trouble. I didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, didn’t do drugs. I was the model child. Temptation didn’t phase me. I knew who I was, who I wanted to be, and had enough fear of getting in trouble that I responded like Jesus…decisively, immediately, and with a healthy dose of power that warned people not to tempt me a third time.

But the internal temptation that has been my companion since I developed a self-concept is self-doubt, bordering on imposter syndrome. “Imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments.” * The proverbial tempter exists inside of me, questioning my call to ministry, my abilities, my strength, my compassion, my intellect, telling me that I’m not good enough.

At its core, imposter syndrome is not only a form of self-doubt, but God-doubt. As a pastor, if I rely on my accomplishments, I’ll come up lacking every time. It’s only in trusting God to work through me that I can be a success in my call to ministry. This isn’t easy. I’m type A and an Enneagram 8. I’m driven to “accomplish”! Like Jesus, though, when I’m tempted to give in to the imposter syndrome that is my companion, I turn to Scripture. I hear God say to Jesus, “This is my son, with whom I am well pleased.” I am God’s daughter and God is pleased with me, too. Knowing this, I trust God will continue to work through me as I continue to faithfully work with you in ministry.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Wright, N.T., Matthew for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1-15 (The New Testament for Everyone) (pp. 26-27). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.