The story so far …
God created Adam and Eve to be his true children, to live in fellowship with him and act as his regent on earth. They were designed to live with responsibility and creativity and fellowship – like the One who made them. But man rebelled against that vocation, choosing to act independently of God, wanting to be god.
But God didn’t give up. He chose one man, Abraham, one family, one people to fulfill the vocation that He had given mankind. They were to act as His regents, live as his people and through them, God promised, all peoples would be restored as well. How did Israel respond to that calling? You can read the story in Psalm 78.
They forgot God’s covenant and refused to live by his law (Ps. 78:10)
They forgot what He had done (78:11)
They willfully put God to the test by “demanding the food they craved” ( v18)
They “spoke against” God, asking: “Can God spread a table in the desert? He provided us water, but can he also give us food??” (v 19)
They did not believe in God or trust in his deliverance. (v22)
They were disloyal and faithless, and “aroused his jealousy with their idols”; i.e. they put other things above God. (uh oh.)
Their hearts were not loyal to God, their spirits were not faithful to Him. They decided it would be better to be back in Egypt with their meat pots without God, than out in the desert and starving with God. (its all about the food…) (Ps 78:8)
They tested him at Masseh (means testing) When things got difficult, in spite of all He had done, they asked “Is the Lord with us or not?” (Ex. 17:7)
God still doesn’t give up though! Psalm 78 ends with God’s choice of David – one faithful shepherd “with integrity of heart”. God’s good rule on earth would one day come – through one like David who would be faithful to God. In Luke 3, John the Baptist is paving the way for this One … Jesus comes to be baptized - and a voice from heaven declared “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus is taking on the vocation of being the true human being, the true Son.
But he must first demonstrate that he is faithful to God – a true son and not a rebel. So, like Israel, he is tested in the desert. And in contrast to Adam, in contrast to Israel, he refuses to provide for his own needs, refuses to doubt God’s faithfulness, refuses to take the place of God. He stays loyal to God and to His calling to be God’s true Son.
Then, immediately, in Nazareth – he announces His vocation as the Son, begins to make the point that this vocation is not only towards the nation of Israel but to the nations of the world, and then begins to exercise his vocation, bringing good news to the poor, freeing the captives, bringing sight to the blind. In the presence of the true Son of God, the kingdom – the rule of God through His anointed representative – has arrived!
Here is what I realized as I listened to the Spirit speaking to me through this text: I, like Israel, am prone to forget what God has done, to want most whatever it is I think will give me life, to be loyal to me and not to God. (I feel sad about that: I think that it would hurt God’s feelings to be distrusted.) But really this story is not about me. There is one who was loyal to his Father above himself, who was the true son, the true human being, and his loyalty brings the benefits of God’s rule to me too.
And I am so glad God is not a quitter.
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