The situation in which I find myself this morning, reminds me of something that happened to me a few months ago: I claimed to some friends that I never used a certain word – even when angry. The next day something happened that made me so angry I used that word more times in 5 minutes than, quite possibly, in my entire life. Did the LORD knock me upside the head with the humility club? Vainglory is not something God finds particularly pleasing.
And now, I’ve gone and done it again!
Yesterday, my issue of First Things arrived in which an article by J.H.H. Weiler appeared entitled “The Trial of Jesus”. Prof. Weiler by the way, teaches a graduate seminar called “The Passion of the Christ: The Trial of Jesus”. The seminar is a scholarly examination of the of the legal issues and historical context of His trial. The article is really, really interesting and I shall comment on it in detail in a later posting. However, the main point of the article is his speculation that the LORD became incarnate for two very important reasons:
- To test the Jews ala Deut 13:1-5
- To offer salvation to the Gentiles.
What? Huh? Test? What’s this about a test?????
When I read Deut 13:3 – “you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” – I thought of what I had written and sent to you all a few days ago. Recall that I wrote:
More interesting, however, is the assumption that God would deliberately “lead us” to trial and temptation (recall that’s what the Devil attempted to do with Jesus). Because there are no other references in the Bible where God deliberately tempts mankind, there really is no warrant for such an interpretation
Note the underlined phrase — my emphasis! Strictly speaking these words are true (to the best of my knowledge), but they are misleading. God most definitely reserves the right to test mankind and Prof. Weiler speculates that the passion of Christ constitutes exactly that kind of test.
Does this weaken the argument that Jesus was actually teaching us to say “save us from temptation” rather than “Lead us not into temptation”? Yes, but not by a lot. Still, we certainly have a lot more to study and discuss.
Now, go and study