“Close your books.”
If you weren’t prepared for the test, those words would strike sudden terror into your heart. Think of Redd Foxx slumping theatrically in his busted-down easy chair, clutching his chest and wailing, “IT’S THE BIG ONE!” Hey, relax, will ya? This is Quiet Time Musings. It’s not a test. Here–have some fresh-brewed Community Hotel Blend. ‘S okay.
Remember when the Guys In The Crew asked Jesus to teach them to pray what He said?
“…and lead us not into temptation . . .”
And we’re talking to God.
So what are we supposed to do with this from Matthew 4:1:
“…Jesus was taken into the wild by the Spirit for the Test .”
The chase. The purpose of tests of any sort is to assess as accurately as possible what you’ve learned, and how you’re applying what you’ve learned. If you’re ready for them, it’s a piece of bacon. If you’re not, it won’t be pretty.
Those ready for The Test authoritatively slam their books shut and sit there grinning with AN–TI–CI-PAY–SHUUUN…. Those, ah, unready tend to sit there, noses abook, trying to osmosively squeeze another elusive answer or two from its pages, hoping to skate by with a high D. As long as there are tests, there will always be prayer in school.
Jesus was ready. He’d spent over a month focusing body, mind and spirit on the upcoming epic event: The Test. He knew it was coming and He knew the nature of the Tester. Look at the last part of v. 1 as The Message puts it:
“The Devil was ready to give it.”
“Mr. or Mrs or Miss Grand Inquisitor”. Okay, first–if you’re a millennial, when your parents and grands were in school, NObody EVer called a teacher by their last name. Not twice. Family background, individual abilities and talent, popularity: NOTHING could save one of us if we dared show disrespect toward the man or woman at the front desk.
Next, there were teachers whom you were DEAD CERTAIN fully meant to flunk you for LIFE every time they gave you a test. You knew it. They just had it in for YOU. You can even remember the cold, derisive sneer as they fah-lopped The Test down on your desktop. You didn’t even want to touch it because it had—them on it. Uh-hunh. You’re nodding, your lips curled in trembling disgust . . .
Right now the picture of that teacher is playing in IMAX inside your mind. Remember how you HATED taking tests from him or her? Even if you had the subject matter down cold. They just froze your socks off and you couldn’t wait to get out of their orbit.
Oh, yeah–Jesus was well acquainted with the Inquisitor. Christ knew Satan, The Adversary, was after more than just His life. Lucifer, once one of God’s glistering, stunningly-beautiful and immensely-powerful archangels, still smarted from challenging God and getting his infernal butt kicked. Hard. Well, yeah, you’d think being that close to God – Sovereign Creator of everything, including Lucifer – he’d, like, know better?
I know, right? What did he expect, a free certificate to Celestial Crystal Cleen for a complimentary wing scrub?
Jesus was ready. The Tester was ready.
Three questions. . .
Jesus knocked ’em outta the desert. The Tester left for awhile.
“…and lead us not into temptation . . .”
Jesus never wanted the stupid test any more than He wanted the final exam in Gethsemane. He was prepped for it. He was willing to take it if need be. He never wanted it.
He never wants those for you, either. Just as He patterned the most important prayer of His earthly life for us – “Please, Father–if there’s another way, I’d just as soon not have to do this!” – He’s telling us a significant praying discipline.
It’s okay to seek a lighter, easier test if God will allow it and knows it will work for you. By all means, ask.
But no matter what the answer is, or what test you eventually tackle, always be prepped. Know your stuff. Be knowing your stuff.
After all, anyone will tell you it’s a dumb move to wait ’til the last minute and try to cram.
Celestial scoring is not politically correct. You can earn an F.
You do not want to do that.
© D. Dean Boone, January 2015