Trust the devil to be well-versed in scripture. I doubt the crafty demon
wanted to stoop (rise, actually) to using God's word but--even with
home-field advantage—he ended up playing Jesus’ game.
the Opposition Research Department down below had worked diligently on
the game plan for those 40 days in the wilderness. The plan was simple:
hit Jesus with a three-pronged attack against areas of the human
experience that the ORD identified as vulnerable. A combination of
Jesus' needs for food, fame and safety ought to be enough to take down
the so-called Son of God.
The match begins. In his first
possession, the devil goes for the hunger offense. No good. Jesus is
still full of the Holy Spirit—apparently it's much better sustenance
than rock bread. Possession two: throw fame, power and authority at him.
Still no good. Jesus is already lord of all those kingdoms, so that
kind of influence doesn’t faze him. Only one possession left for the
desperate devil (apparently the ORD team didn’t work as diligently as it
The devil pulls out the enemy’s playbook and
sticks his thumb halfway in. He places Jesus at the top of the temple
and tells him to jump, because (the devil opens the book to Psalm 91)
“He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you. On their
hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against
a stone.” The devil’s desperation is clear: he’s quoting holy scripture
at the Son of God to try to get him to sin. Naturally the devil loses.
the devil's tactic here. Jesus wins all three possessions by drawing
strength from the lessons of scripture, but the devil adapts after his
first two attempts. Psalm 91 is a beautiful poem about trusting in God,
and the devil twists it to his own devices.
Sad to say, but the
ORD learned this tactic from us Christians. (I know, the timeline
doesn’t really work, but just go with me here.) When we get backed into
corners, when we feel threatened by different interpretations of our
religion, we tend to fling the shrapnel of our twisted bits of scripture
at each other. Instead of looking to scripture for guidance, we look to
it for munitions.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Look at the
other side of the match. The devil twists scripture into a weapon, but
Jesus doesn’t shoot verse bullets back. Instead, he quotes scripture to
guide himself along the right path, to remind himself how to live.