Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What Was Satan Thinking? Luke 4:3-13

When Satan rebelled against God, in Heaven!, who he saw every moment, desiring to be worshipped himself, how did he think he could ever win? Surely he saw what we long to—the perfect essence of God, His absolute power, knowledge, and love. God was revealed, and no one could possibly think that He could be overthrown. Right? And yet Satan must have thought there was a way. So I just pulled on that thread a bit....

Remember our story. We know it by the opening scenes. God creates Heaven, and then fills it with warriors—terrifyingly powerful angels. This is no date movie, no kids' cartoon. It's a war movie, from the start. Why is God's first creation warrior and a barracks for them (Heaven)? What implications did these created angels take from that? What role did they figure they had? Who was their enemy they were made to war after? What does their "Bible" say, if they have one?

I first wonder what God had revealed about events, about Earth, and people, that it would come under evil control and require rescue? Was there some reason that Satan believed that he could become that evil controller of Earth and its people?

I wonder these things because of Luke 4 when Jesus goes into the wilderness to be tested and to fast, and near the end, Satan appears in order to tempt Him. "The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 

And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”

 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

    And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time."

How could Satan possibly have imagined that Jesus might yield and worship him? Something had to be at stake. For Satan to have had any hope that this plan could work, something had to hang in the balance, something at risk, a deal to be made. What could make it work? What would be so valuable that Jesus might give in and worship Satan, His own creation?

Satan had been given authority over the Earth and its people, and he held them captive, in bondage, enslaved to darkness and separated from God (which he caused!). So here it is: Would Jesus trade the freedom of His beloved people by worshipping the betrayer? That had to be the deal that Satan hoped to strike, to trade the freedom of people for worship. We parents know that we would trade anything to secure the safety of our kids, even ourselves. So of course, Satan knew that Jesus would trade to rescue His people.

What Satan couldn't see was that God had another plan! And the enemy's defeat began right there, in that moment when Jesus walked away. And indeed, Jesus did do what any parent would do, traded His own life to rescue His kids.

This gives me pause, for if even a little bit of this is true, then Satan is far smarter and more crafty than we'd ever imagined. The sheer audacity and brilliance of this plan cannot go unnoticed, even though it failed. It's much like watching a movie where the evil mastermind (who is indeed both evil incarnate and a mastermind of masterminds!) is a formidable foe with many resources, intent on setting off a nuclear device to destroy the Earth. Only at the last possible moment does the Hero manage to deter the plan and defeat the evil mastermind. In a way that the mastermind never imagined...by sheer willpower, goodness, and a knowledge beyond anything the mastermind could know, and sometimes even a willingness for self-sacrifice that the mastermind would never expect.

That's our story. We've been rescued, redeemed, from the hand of an evil mastermind by One who is ever greater. Of course, the mastermind still roams, seeking to devour all of us who claim to be Jesus' offspring. And He is dangerous, make no mistake. But our savior is even more dangerous! And on our side. And He sacrificed Himself for us, to set us free.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Of God and Grapefruit—Isaiah 55:8

Every morning I cut open a grapefruit for breakfast, and nearly every morning, our dog, Reggie watches carefully. One day I realized that he has no clue what I'm doing. He doesn't, in fact, know anything of what I know, in even this simplest of things.

He doesn't know that the juiciest grapefruits seem to come from Florida, or that I first enjoyed one when my mom picked one off a tree in her yard. Or remembering that my Dad was alive then. And that soon after, I was buying them by the case and having them shipped from Florida. Or that the dish I use each morning for them is one of the last two things I have that belonged to my dear Granny, who I miss still. That I spent some wonderful weeks with her in Indy before she got moved to Florida to be with mom. That there's the one knife I use that works best, or that I learned how to prepare them by seeing how it was done as I had breakfast with George, my first small group leader. And he doesn't remember the conversation and all that that led to. Oh, and that I eat them! They nourish me and give me vitamins. And I'll just stop there, though I could fill pages with all the trails of knowledge of things that run off of just cutting a grapefruit for breakfast. How many days could my dog watch me and even begin to understand any of this? Even if I tried to explain it? It just isn't possible. And my life has a lot more going on that just cutting a grapefruit each morning!

And to think that we could ever understand the mind of God.

My ways are not your ways. (Isaiah 55:8)....No kidding. We haven't a clue.
The past few days we've spent with dear friends who lost their 22 year old daughter. We now walk this same lonely, dark, and sorrowful road with them. No one saw these chapters in our stories coming. We surely do not understand why God has written these chapters. But He has. We do not want to be here. We've not healed from our own August 26, much less help someone else heal from their Dec. 31. We have grief upon griefs. Yet we must know that God knew about our Aug. 26, He knew that we would draw upon these dear friends in November and December, and that their Dec. 31 was coming. And that we'd be there now. So all our hearts break together as we weep and pray and seek hope in the midst of our losses.

What's the next chapter in our stories? I might as well stare at a grapefruit through the eyes of a dog as try to understand that. He calls us to trust Him, and so we walk the path with Him, and comfort each other along the way.