Next Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test. The Devil was ready to give it. Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights. That left him, of course, in a state of extreme hunger, which the Devil took advantage of in the first test: “Since you are God’s Son, speak the word that will turn those stones into loaves of bread.” Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.”
For the second test the Devil took him to the Holy City. He sat him on top of the Temple and said, “Since you are God’s Son, jump.” The Devil goaded him by quoting Psalm 91: “He has placed you in the care of angels. They will catch you so that you won’t so much as stub your toe on a stone.” Jesus countered with another citation from Deuteronomy: “Don’t you dare test the Lord your God.”
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours — lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.” Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”
The test was over. The Devil left. And in his place, Angels! Angels came and took care of Jesus’ needs.
Matthew 4:1-11 (The Message)
This was the original game of Survivor. It’s full of intrigue and game play. Manipulation and skill. It’s good vs. evil. In the end only one will win. Sometimes life feels like a game of Survivor. We learn to live with people. We deal with manipulation. We deal with temptation. We deal with hunger and control. How we handle these things ultimately affects whether we become the winner of our lives.
Jesus was tempted in the wild for 40 days. Forty days without Nutella or cheese. Forty days without pillows or blankets. Forty days without the comforts we take for granted. Forty days when all Jesus could rely on was God. How many of us could do this?
It would be terrifying. Out in the wilderness with the animals and no protection. No food, no shelter and plenty of time to get scared thinking up worst case scenarios. I can’t even imagine it. Jesus outwitted. He outplayed. He lasted. He survived the wild. He survived the Devil. Hungry and parched, he stuck to the truth and in the end found his needs were met. He followed God and it worked out.
Things generally work out when you follow God. Why is it so hard to grasp this sometimes?
I want to have strong faith like this. No worries. The ability to face circumstances with absolute confidence. An ability to meet the Devil face to face, look him in the eye and know God would protect me. My faith is strong but it’s not that strong. Worry and fear creep into my mind sometimes. Instead of trusting, I might question. Instead of believing, I may panic. This has to stop.
I must move forward unafraid. It is time to trust. It is time to walk in faith. It is time to move boldly into the future.
Life is like a game of Survivor. The trick is we have to outplay ourselves. We need to get past what holds us back. We need to become the people God created us to be.
It’s time to play the game.
Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.