Most of the posts on Jesus’ ministry have been in regard to things Jesus did. This time I want to take a look at something Jesus did not do:
In Matthew 4, we read about the temptation of Jesus. The first three verses show the devil’s first attempt to discredit Jesus’ ministry, which had just been inaugerated in the previous verses (3:13-17). In 3:17 God declares that Jesus is in fact his Son. In Matthew 4 Satan reverses this terminology in order to tempt Jesus. We often read the first temptation and immediately notice the devil’s use of Jesus’ hunger to tempt him to turn the stones into bread. In reality there is far more in these verses than meets the eye.
There is a second element in the temptation that is quite a bit more subtle but may be just as much a temptation as his hunger. The devil qualifies his plea for Jesus to transform these stones with an appeal and test of Jesus’ divinity. In effect he says, if you are who you say you are then you will make these stones into bread and asuage your hunger. If you are not able to turn stones into bread then you certainly must not be God’s Son. There it is. This temptation has as much or more to do with Jesus’ own pride in displaying and defending his own right to Godhood as it does with hunger. Satan’s trap is to have Jesus rationalize that by making the stone bread, he is actually defending God and himself when in effect he may actually be considering his goodhood “something to be grasped” or tightly held on to.
By avoiding the temptation to feel the need to display and prove his own divinity, Jesus reminds us that he was not a self-promoter. A self-promoter always wants to prove they are the best at what they do. Satan thrives on the self-promotion trap. When you see yourself first it makes it very difficult to have a clear view of God. Jesus, being the best, did not see a need to prove it. We can learn a lot from what Christ chose not to do.