Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“And when the Tempter came to him, he said, ‘Since you are the Son of God, speak, so that these stones become bread.’ ”
The Slanderer, in Matthew 4:3
If you had not eaten in days, and you were able to get some food, would it be logical for you to refuse to eat the food? Of course not.
That was what the Slanderer (the devil) was trying to get Jesus to understand in the wilderness during our Lord’s temptation. Jesus had not eaten in many days, and the Slanderer knew that Jesus could just speak the word and change the stones in that desolate place into bread. After all, he might have reasoned to Jesus, did God give you all that power and then expect you to starve to death instead of using it?
But the real issue, which Satan well knew, was not whether Jesus would be logical but whether he would be led by the mind of the Spirit or of the flesh, or by the suggestions of another who was not of God. In a fleshly sense, there was no arguing against Satan; he was being perfectly logical and reasonable – if you leave God out of the equation. In this scene from the wilderness, Jesus was being disciplined to be moved only by the Spirit, and it was a trial of the highest degree. He was being trained to value the leading of the holy Ghost more than his own life, and he learned the lesson perfectly. The eternal destiny of each one of us was in the balance, and Jesus loved us enough to pass the test. Our salvation from the wrath of God depended on Jesus listening to and obeying the Spirit rather than making his decisions according to the logic of the flesh.
If a man was suffering horribly, and unjustly, and he had the power and opportunity to free himself from his tormentors, what sane man would refuse to escape? Only a fool would willingly submit to such abuse. Right? That was the logic that the priests and elders of Israel were trying to get Jesus to see when they stood at the foot of his cross and cried out, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” (Mt. 27:40). They just knew that if he were really the Son of God, he would not allow men to torture him like that. It would be illogical to think anything else. But what they did not know was that it was the will of God that Jesus stay on the cross, and to Jesus’ way of thinking, it was wiser to obey God than to be logical.
Jesus would have gladly come down from the cross if that had been the will of God. He didn’t want to be on the cross at all; in the Garden of Gethsemane, he had prayed desperately that the Father would not send him to it. But when the Father showed him that all our hopes of eternal life and peace depended on his offering himself to God for our sins, he humbled himself and “endured the cross, despising the shame.”
In the kingdom of God, nothing is reasonable unless God wills it, and nothing is foolish unless it contradicts God’s will. The greatest logic in the universe is this: If Gods wills it, then do it, no matter how bad it appears to be, and if God does not will it, then don’t do it, no matter how good it looks. There is no greater wisdom than that, and anyone who does not live by that rule is foolish.