Transformation is a God activity. Our responsibility is a surrendered, listening heart.
Sacrificing control and curating space for silence strengthens the heart-muscle for surrender to God, which leads to integrity of the heart. And out of the overflow of our hearts, our actions speak.
Jesus’s mission was destined to transform the whole universe, but the foundations of His power to transform lay within the integrity of His heart.
Jesus shows us the way… even in the wilderness.
Over 40 days, the devil attacked Jesus’s heart at its weakest and most human points. In doing so, the devil was hoping to inflict three, big blows to the foundations of His heart…
The first blow. Hunger matters.
At the peak of Jesus’s physical hunger, the accuser comes:
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
What’s the big deal about turning stone into bread? Jesus, later in His ministry, does miraculous things with fish and bread, so what is so sinister about this request?
We are given insight from Jesus’s answer:
“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, when Moses was reminding Israel to keep their heart’s hunger focused on God’s voice. God had miraculously provided manna (bread!) for the Israelites, in the midst of their own wilderness, when they had no means to provide for themselves.
However, His specific instruction was to collect no more than what was needed to feed their families each day… because everyone would be provided for. And, indeed, manna flowed daily – as faithfully as God’s words flow from His mouth to fulfilled promise!
The accuser had hoped that Jesus’s physical hunger would cloud His hunger for God’s voice and promise. Instead, Jesus modelled a heart that did not just hunger for bread alone – even though He had been starving for many days! – but one that primarily hungered for God’s voice. This takes the daily realignment of listening to God’s word and a daily surrender to His promise.
How hungry is your heart for God’s voice and promise today?
The second blow. Trust matters.
In Jesus’s physical weakness and loneliness, the accuser hits back.
Jerusalem was the centre of Israel, and the temple was the centre of life for the Israelites. It is here – at its highest point – that the accuser takes Jesus next, quoting scripture himself:
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Attacking His identity, the accuser demands Jesus prove Himself.
Everyone would have been gathered at the temple. All the accuser asked Jesus to do was to throw Himself off its highest point so that the angels might miraculously save Him… and everyone would see that Jesus was truly the Son of God.
So, what is so evil about this? There is even scripture to back it up!
Again, Jesus gives us insight from His response:
“It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Here, Jesus is quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, where Moses urges the Israelites to refrain from testing God a second time – like they did at Massah (meaning ‘testing’).
As Jesus surrendered His own heart to be tested, He understood it was important to trust. Without this trust, it would have been all too easy to turn His own testing back on God and say, “Are you with me or not?” (Exodus 17:7)
Jesus trusted that He must walk the path of suffering servant and He chose not to test God. Instead, in the midst of multiple paths leading to false treasures, Jesus’s way was a focused, daily realignment to God’s way.
How confident is your heart today that you are trusting and walking in the path God desires?
The third blow. Worship matters.
The gloves come off for the final hit on Jesus’s heart.
The accuser takes Him to a high mountain (usually a place for revelation) and shows Jesus all the kingdoms and their splendour:
“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
The accuser is offering Jesus the end for which He laid His glory aside in the first place – the gathering of all the nations under God’s kingdom (c.f. 25:32)… but at what cost?
For this reward (the instant ease of a shortcut) the accuser requires Jesus to bow and worship him.
Jesus responds from Deuteronomy 6:13:
“Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
Jesus asserts His authority to the accuser, demonstrating the power of a strong heart. In doing so, He also demonstrates our own authority in Christ.
Connecting the first, second, and third testing, we come to see the importance of worship – bending our knee to God alone. Psalm 95:6-8 says:
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice,
“Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
Is there anyone or anything else distracting you from your worship of God?
When we listen to other voices, when we lose trust in His way, when we bow to anything else but God… our hearts become hardened and misaligned.
Jesus practiced what He preached. He modelled for us, the real power of a surrendered heart. One that ensures good ground for God’s word to grow deep roots… and for the fruits of the Spirit to flourish in.
Over the next 40 days, you have the opportunity to carve out space and time – 40 hours – to realign your heart with Gods. Pray that He would honour your commitment and use this challenge to continue His good work in your life. Ask for transformation. Yes, for your own heart, but also for the many hearts around you.
The Give My Voice Challenge begins TODAY. Join hundreds of Christians across Australia doing the 40-day journey. Download or update your End Poverty mobile app now, or visit www.baptistworldaid.org.au/give-my-voice