Dear Reader, reflecting on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus is hard, but how can we come into a closer relationship with Him if we don't dig a little deeper? Does that reflection cause us to ask ourselves, "Can temptation tarnish our price for heaven?"
Have you ever been tempted, Dear Reader? Offered an easy way out, or up, that seemed almost too good to pass on?
Every week in the news there are new and multiple accounts of individuals taking advantage of trusting souls to pad their own pockets. Glossy pictures of temptation, of what seems (and usually is) too good to be true, can be seductive.
The world has never been without mercenaries seeking only to benefit themselves, frequently tempting others into their worlds of greed. It’s amazing how their number has grown during a time of pandemic and inflation. Chase this thought: if succumbing to temptation by others leads to my personal loss, can it erode my trust in God? Can temptation tarnish my price for heaven?
Tom and I have never had substantial wealth or power within our grasp. Truth be told, Tom has always been wiser than me when it came to “looks too good to be true,” but it doesn’t take an economics professor or theologian to know temptation comes in all sizes. Looking at temptation through the lens of recent events reminds me of an important lesson I learned as a child.
Mama came from a family of seamstresses. They had reputations for creating and producing quality work. As a young child I hated it when Mama would make me wait for lunch while she fastidiously ripped out a slightly less than perfect seam. Her words and actions were teaching me to never cut corners, and to do the job right.
This isn’t Mama, but it’s the kind of sewing machine she sewed school dresses for my sister and me, and cocktail dresses for the ladies in town.
One time when I asked Mama about finishing off seams underneath, she said they were just as important as the part of the garment that showed. When I started to balk about being so picky about something nobody would notice, Mama had a resounding reply that still resonates today, “Whether anyone else knows or not, you’ll know if you take a shortcut.” Temptation has lots of faces, doesn’t it Dear Reader?
…they offered him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when he tasted it he wouldn’t drink it.
Matthew 27:34 MSG
It seems unlikely that the soldiers who had just scourged and humiliated Jesus would offer him something to numb the pain of the crucifixion unless it would benefit them in some way. Maybe it was part of the crucifixion process to keep the condemned from thrashing about while they wrestled him onto the cross and tried to keep him securely fastened.
Either way, Jesus was tempted to take an easier way out of the ordeal that was quickly escalating from awful to excrutiating . . . and He didn’t take it.
Forsaken by His followers, tried by hypocrites and foreigners, tortured and tormented by seasoned Roman soldiers, how did Jesus have the presence of mind to refuse the wine and myrrh? How did He prevent temptation from interfering with the price of heaven?
Dear Reader, have you ever found yourself confronted with a “cross” and the temptation to take the easy way out? Have you questioned whether your actions even mattered? I’m so sorry, Dear Reader, but the Lord doesn’t promise to zap us out when thing are unbearable: He promises something better.
Israel, the Lord who created you says,
“Do not be afraid-I will save. I have called you by name-you are mine.
When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you . . .
Isaiah 43:1-2 GNT
Do you see that, Dear Reader? The Lord doesn’t promise that there won’t be trials. He promises to go through them with us, and be with us on the other side. Stuff happens! Sometimes it’s not our own making. The Lord knows that.
The Lord also knows His children are made in His own image We are made of sterner stuff than anything, including temptation, the world can hurl at us, whether if feels like it or not.
I wonder if Isaiah’s words whispered through the pain to Jesus, offering what no narcotic ever could: hope. The same hope against troubles, trials, and temptation that’s frequently offered to us. Despite temptation, Jesus chose to pay the price of heaven so we could share in the hope that’s only found through our Heavenly Father.