A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/3

But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4

Following his baptism by John, Jesus went into the dessert to face a series of temptations. Scripture often refers to Jesus as the Second Adam and his temptation in the wilderness is a key reason for that title Where the first Adam failed miserably in being obedient to God, Jesus, the Second Adam, demonstrated his unfailing obedience to the Father by handling every temptation the devil threw his way. This first of those temptations ties directly to the temptation faced by Adam and Eve.

Adam and Eve were told not to eat from one particular tree in the garden. They had access to everything else but that one tree. They suffered no hunger of any kind. They had not area of life that they faced deprivation. All they were asked to do was trust the word of God and not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. The serpent convinced them that they could not trust the word of God, that God was not concerned about their best interest and was only trying to keep them from experiencing something wonderful.

Jesus is in the dessert on a self imposed fast. He has no food, no water, no lush surroundings. He faces deprivation on every level, and he is also being tempted to eat. But he makes it clear that what matters most is not food that is a delight to the eyes and good to eat. Rather what matters most is to feed on the very words of God. Adam and Eve doubted the word of God and it led to the expulsion from the garden and our sin nature taking hold in every human being. Jesus fed on the word of God and it opened the door to our salvation and rescue from sin and death.

We live in a time in which biblical illiteracy is higher than it has been for generations if not centuries. We also live in a time when people are as confused as ever about what it means to be a Christian and what following Christ looks like. There is a vital connection between those two states of affairs. The failure on the part of many Christians to know and understand the most basic of biblical stories and teachings is a direct cause of the sad state of Christianity in the west today.

The lack of vitality and consistency in the faith is a result of people not feeding on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. We have more resources to study the Bible at our finger tips than every before yet take less and less advantage of those resources. A daily feeding on the Word of God is the first step in a vital and vibrant relationship with Jesus. I wish I could say that this devotional was sufficient for that purpose but this is only a snack compared to the feast that is available for you if you would consistently and systematically study and apply the Bible to your life.

A Year of Listening to Jesus 1/1

And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49

Imagine being Mary and Joseph today and losing track of your twelve year old for three days. The panic that would ensue, along with the 24/7 news coverage and the speculation about what you must have done to your child would be more than most could handle. On top of that they would most likely be facing some kind of charges for child endangerment or neglect. Even if things were different 2,000 years ago they still had to be worried beyond belief when Jesus ended up not being in their traveling party of family and friends.

Their relief and joy at finally finding him in the Temple must have been glorious to behold. But that relief turned to puzzlement and bewilderment when he spoke the words of Luke 2:42. What did he mean by his Father’s house? What did he mean that he must be there and they should have known that? Obviously Mary and Joseph knew that Jesus was special and sent from God. But they didn’t know the whole story. I wonder what other things Jesus said to them over the years that were puzzling to them?

Throughout the rest of his life Jesus made a habit of saying things that befuddled people. To this day the words of Jesus, often highlighted in red in many Bibles, can still be puzzling. It is my hope that during the course of this devotional, that at least some of those words will become more clear and meaningful in your life. Sometimes they will be comforting. Sometimes they will be challenging. Sometimes they will remain perplexing. All of those reactions put you in good company with countless readers over the centuries.

If there is one thing to keep in mind when reading the words of Jesus it can be found in this first of his recorded statements, he must be in his Father’s house and about his Father’s business. Throughout his earthly life Jesus was laser focused on his connection to the Father and carrying out the Father’s will. His obedience to the Father is lauded time and again in the New Testament. That obedience was critical to his mission of being the unblemished Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world. That obedience is also the perfect example for us as we seek to have a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Father.

But never forget that it is because of the obedience Jesus demonstrated towards the Father, that you do not need to earn your place with God. Jesus opened the door to the Father and invites you to enter in. Your entrance fee is charged to his account. It truly is a free gift of grace and is at the heart of The Gospel. All your obedience is a response of gratitude and love for the love the Father has already poured out to you in Jesus.