Identity Theft

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” - Matthew 4:1-3

The very first words that the Tempter says to Jesus are: "If you are the Son of God..." The Tempter immediately goes after the cornerstone of Jesus’s identity. And that’s how he goes to work on us, too. Sure, Jesus is hungry and the temptation is about making bread. But the core of the temptation is about identity theft. The Tempter tries to disconnect Jesus from his Father. 

“If you are the Son of God…” is a subtle way to shift the focus of Jesus’s life from being to doing. The Tempter wants Jesus (and us) to think we have to do something to prove our connection to God. As we looked at yesterday, Jesus didn’t take the bait (“yet he did not sin” Heb 4:15) – he kept grounded in his relationship with the Father. So how about you – what’s really going on with that temptation to eat too much, to stay so busy, to say the angry word, to disengage from conflict, to cling to your money, to resist forgiving? 

Maybe the truest and deepest temptation in those moments is not actually about whatever specific ‘stone into bread’ situation you’re facing, but maybe instead it’s about disconnecting you from the ground of your being, from the source of your life. Maybe the Tempter is really trying to entice you into proving yourself, into going it alone, into thinking you can do things without God. 

Today, as an act of preparation for the zillion temptations you will face, pray through this simple contemplative exercise based on Psalm 46:10. Speak each line one at a time and reflect over it in silence for a few moments before moving on to the next line, emptying yourself of all distractions, and allowing your mind, heart and body to reconnect to the Father’s love.

Be still and know that I am God

Be still and know that I am

Be still and know 

Be still