Saturday, November 14, 2009
Genesis 3:1 plainly states that the serpent was more subtle than any beast that the Lord God had made. Whether the serpent is God's convenient agent or not is a fascinating discussion, but a bit off topic today. Yesterday we claimed that the serpent's principle agenda is to tempt people to do good. But, why does he try to seduce people in that direction?
We know that immediately after Jesus had received His confirmation from God at the river of Jordan He was led into the wilderness to be tempted. God had said over Jesus: "This is my son, in whom I am well pleased!". If I am to paraphrase this it would go something like: "This is my son who is perfect, I have accepted Him just as He is and I love Him more than anything."
God had breathed His life into Adam so that Adam became a living being. Adam was an image of God. We find in Genesis 1 that God blessed Adam and Eve, and the record says that God saw that everything He had done was very good. The five other days He saw that everything was good. When humans entered the scene it was very good, in other words, perfect.
We often associate temptation with deeds and thoughts. The Devil made me do that, or the devil tempts me to think like that. If he can perpetuate that illusion he has the upper hand, and we are unable to disclose what he is really doing. So, what is his actual objective? Why did he tempt Adam and Eve to do good? Why was Jesus tempted immediately after the baptism?
It is about identity. What the serpent really says is that we are not good enough. He accuses God of lying when God says everything is perfect. He claims that we have to improve God's perfect creation. In this context Jesus' forty days in the wilderness is a repetition of what happened in the garden. Would Jesus renounce His identity, just as Adam and Eve, or would He by faith bring to light the serpent's subtle temptations? God knew the outcome, but the rest of the creation must have been in utter suspense.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebr 4:15)
In every respect means that the serpent tried every possible approach to make Jesus renounce His identity as the beloved one, as a perfect image of God. Jesus, however, stood firm and could with confidence exclaim: "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). Sin is basically to renounce our identity as perfect in Him. When we as Jesus can say that whoever has seen me has seen God we are in perfect harmony with God's word and we have a living, transparent relationship with our Father based on the ultimate truth.
Why did God say everything was very good after He had breathed His life, that is, His Spirit into Adam and Eve? Why did He wait until the baptism before He blessed Jesus in the way he did? Simply because it is His Spirit who gives us life. It is His Spirit who is perfect in us as us. And, in order to receive the Spirit we have to be born again by accepting Christ by faith. This is the restoration Jesus died for to accomplish - new creations living the Christ life by faith.
(Of course, Jesus was already born by the Spirit, but the Spirit came over Jesus as a dove as an example to us.)