Second Temptation of Jesus Christ in the Wilderness
The second temptation is a temptation of self-protection. We are tempted to question God’s presence and manipulate God’s promises. In the second temptation (Mt. 4.5-7) Satan misapplied Scripture (Ps. 91.11,12) in an attempt to get Jesus to jump from the highest point of the temple as a means to test God’s faithfulness to His word, i.e., to protect Jesus from physical harm. The main point of this temptation is to show us that God is not to be tested concerning his faithfulness.
Jesus’ quote of Dt. 6.16 alludes to Israel’s rebellion against the Lord at Massah (Ex. 17.1-7). Jesus refused to create an artificial situation to test the faithfulness and protection of God. His reply teaches us that the Son of God would live in a relationship of trust that needs no tests. Jesus rested in the shelter of the Father’s unshakeable security.
What Can We Learn About Risk From the Second Temptation?
Risk is as an action that exposes someone to the possibility of loss or injury. If you take a risk, you can lose money, you can lose your reputation, and you can lose your life. In addition, what is worse, if you take a risk, you may endanger other people and not just yourself. You may lose their money. Their life may be at stake. Here in this second temptation Jesus does not take the risk of jumping off the temple because it would be putting God to the test.
Therefore, we must ask will a wise and loving person, then, ever take a risk? Is it wise to expose yourself to loss? Is it loving to endanger others? Is taking risks unwise and unloving? And if we answer yes, there is times that we take risks how do we know that we are not just putting God to the test?
For example, you will most likely never see me jumping out of an airplane, 1.) because I think it is clearly putting God to the risk and 2.) because I think that it dishonors God. I believe it dishonors God because most people jump off airplanes for the rush. They are basically saying, “God, my life is not exciting enough”, they have to create experiences in their life to feel like they are really living.
However, if God was to call me to the mission field and the only way of getting to a people that had never heard the gospel was jumping out of an airplane you can bet that I am putting God to the test so that He can use me to glorify Himself to those people. Therefore, we can conclude that there are times to risk, when a successful risk would bring great benefit to many people and its failure would bring harm only to yourself. It may not be loving to choose the comfort of security when something great may be achieved for the cause of God and for the good of others.
My burden this evening is to help explode the myth of safety, and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it is a mirage. It does not exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns and things beyond your control. And the tragedy is that in the deceptive enchantment of security we are paralyzed to take any risks for the cause of God, because we are deluded and think it may jeopardize a security which in fact does not even exist.
Now do we have confidence that everything that we do for the Lord will be successful and that our risks are not really risks? No. There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least not in the short run. Paul was beaten and thrown in jail in Jerusalem and shipped off to Rome and executed there two years later. And he did right to risk his life for the cause of God.
And how many graves are there in Africa and Asia because thousands of young missionaries were freed by the power of the Holy Spirit from the enchantment of security, and then risked their lives for the cause of God among the unreached peoples of the world! Therefore, we do not risk our lives hoping that it turns out for the best, but we risk our lives because we trust that God will work everything for our good and His glory. Because even if our risks for God kills us, then we can say like Paul does to the Philippians in chapter 1 verse 21, for me to live is Christ and for me to die is gain. (Piper, 1987)