Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. Over the next forty days, the Devil began scheming of ways on how to trick Jesus into improperly using God’s power. The longer Jesus went without food, fasting and praying to spiritually prepare his mind, the more vulnerable his body became. Thus, in the passage below the Devil tempted Jesus to use God’s power for selfish reasons. In a game of Truth or Dare, the Devil dared Jesus to show off, calling upon angels to keep him from falling. Responding with Scripture, Jesus corrects the Devil’s abuse of God’s power.
Then he led Jesus to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, and said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written and forever remains written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You to guard and protect You,’ and, ‘they will lift You up on their hands, So that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied to him, “It is said [in Scripture], ‘you shall not tempt the Lord your God [to prove Himself to you],’” Luke 4:9-12.
Before gathering a ministry team of disciples, Jesus experienced the best and worst from his fellow Jews. Upon entering a town, Jesus went to the local synagogue, debating, listening and teaching God fearing Jews. Jesus quoted the Old Testament, speaking with authority without any education or extensive training. On one day, Jesus spoke about God’s grace extending to Gentiles, non Jewish believers. This comment turned the crowd in Nazareth against Jesus, committing heresy in their eyes. This uprising forced Jesus outside of town to a nearby cliff, as residents attempted to push Jesus off the edge to his death. On this occasion with his life in danger, Jesus properly utilized God’s power, like a ghost, Jesus passed by the crowds escaping to Capernaum.
As they heard these things [about God’s grace to these two Gentiles], the people in the synagogue were filled with a great rage; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to hurl Him down the cliff. 30 But passing [miraculously] through the crowd, He went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.
Today, the debate of properly utilizing God’s power continues. Should you treat God like a supernatural Santa Claus, praying to the Lord with a long Christmas wish list? Or should you only ask for things in accordance with God’s will? Do you take Jesus literally, “ask and you will receive?” What is a good middle ground, a place to start? If you use Matthew 7:12 as an outline for prayer, this may clear up any confusion that you currently are struggling to grasp. Prayer is a three step process, asking, seeking insight to explain unanswered prayers and continue to persist, wrestling with the Lord in prayer. May this passage guide you to understand how to properly utilize God’s power.
by Jay Mankus