As Settled By the Sacred Text

When our Lord was tempted by the devil in the wilderness, He answered with Scripture, as we all know. Three times He was tested, and each time He replied in the words of Deuteronomy. But this is sometimes misunderstood. We tend to think that Jesus was quoting Scripture at the devil, as though the devil ought to start obeying it. But this was not His intent. When the Lord cited the words of Moses, each time it was because He would have been disobeying the text of Scripture if He had followed the suggestion of the tempter.

And this, in its turn, shows us the Lord’s attitude toward Scripture—what He believed the authority of Scripture to be, with regard to Him. We know that Jesus was obedient to the will of God (as seen in His prayer at Gethsemane), but we sometimes miss the fact that Jesus obeyed the Bible. In the wilderness, Jesus was not relying on a hidden, mysterious hot line to the Father that only He had. No, He bowed His head and His heart and refused to do what was wrong, as wrong was determined and settled by the sacred text.

If this is what He did, what should we do? In a moment we will be confessing our sins, and we too should key off the words of Deuteronomy. As a people who have neglected to do what God required of us, we acknowledge that righteousness belongs to the Lord, while shame of face belongs to us. And this is entirely determined by our relationship to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

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Amen.