The term "fake news" is a major issue in our culture right now. As we navigate this era of social media and changing traditional news routes we the consumer are left to ascertain who is telling the truth. If want to be proactive in understanding what is really true and not give ourselves to a particular website or stream of thought we must do some digging. We have to consider the source of the news, read the whole of information being presented, and be sure to check our own biases as well. Even if we do all of these things, it can be difficult to know if we really have found the truth.
However when it comes to understanding Jesus and how God has revealed Himself to us in the Bible do we come to it with the same level of desire to ascertain the truth? Do we hunger to know who God really is? Do we thirst to go beyond our biases about God and seek to know Him?
It important for those that follow Jesus to not simply know about the words of Jesus but rather to know the person behind the words. Scripture can be misquoted and sound really good to our ears, but still lead us away from God and into sin.
When we look at our reading for today, we see this come up in the life of Jesus. In Luke 4, Jesus is being tempted by Satan. In the third temptation we read about, Jesus and Satan go up to a high point on the temple and Satan tempts Jesus with a private test of God's faithfulness. In presenting this temptation to Jesus, Satan quotes from the book of Psalm. The thing is that it might be easy to say that Satan misquoted or that he took it out of context, but that doesn't seem to be the case. In fact, it seems that he quotes the Scripture accurately but in a way that would try to get Jesus to question the character of God.
As Darrell Bock summarizes in his commentary it is as if Satan says, "Jesus, before you venture out on this ministry, you had better be sure God will care for you. The psalm guarantees your protection, so jump. If you are the Son, God will rescue you; if you trust God, you will jump. Just let go and let God care for you!”
Jesus sees through the deception of Satan and quotes back to him, "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." Again Jesus stands firm admits temptation demonstrating he is more powerful than Satan and that he would not give into the terrible lies of sin. This is why he is the better Adam and redeeming sacrifice for our sin.
Yet as we read about the temptation of Jesus have we stopped to consider that Satan can tempt us in the same way. He may use things or even quote Scriptures that sound good to us or seem to make sense but ultimately lead us away from God.
A simple example of this that I have seen recently is the use of the verse, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Phil 4:13) This verse sounds awesome. We quote that verse out loud to ourselves and we feel empowered and strong. It seems to make sense that since Jesus conquered all and defeated death shouldn't he be able to give us the power to do all the things that we put our mind and heart to? It sounds nice in idea but often when we quote this verse in this way it leads us to false sense of pride and security in our own pursuit of happiness.
When you read what comes before and after Philippians 4:13 you realize that Paul wrote this verse as we describes the suffering that he was enduring for the Gospel. He speaks of being content in suffering. He says that in the face of plenty or hunger and abundance or need, he can be content in Christ because his hope is not based on his circumstances, it is based on Jesus. So when he says "I can do all things through Christ..." he is really speaking to contentment and how no matter what he can endure in faith because of the strength of Christ, not his own. You can see it takes on a very different meaning for our daily lives than if we simple repeat that singular verse to ourselves.
There are many examples like this, but this is why it is important in our lives not simply to know the words about Jesus, but to truly know Him and embrace a relationship with Him. That we might follow him and walk in his ways, and experience the hope and joy of walking with Jesus.
How well do we know Jesus? Would we recognize misquoted Scripture when we see it? How aware are we of our own bias toward comfort and selfishness?
Today as everyday, may we seek to discover Jesus...the real Jesus...and desire to know him for ourselves.