I’ve been reflecting lately on the temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4. The temptation that grabs my attention right now is when the tempter takes Jesus to the highest point of the temple – the center of religious and spiritual life in Jesus’ day — and challenges him to jump off and let God’s angels catch him.
The devil even quotes Scripture to Jesus, from Psalm 91, about how God commands his angels to keep his chosen one from dashing his foot on a stone. Temptations wouldn’t be so significant if they didn’t sound good; if there wasn’t a dash of truth thrown in there. One of the lines in Ben Rector’s song “If You Can Hear Me” says: “Sometimes the devil sounds a lot like Jesus.”
The heart of this temptation for Jesus seems to be the invitation to prove himself. To show, in the middle of the crowds at the temple grounds, that he is someone special. To start his ministry off with a spectacular, miraculous bang. Who wouldn’t respect Jesus and listen to him if they saw angels rescue him in mid-air as he launched himself off the top of the temple?