Click here for an audio version of this blog post.
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”
5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”
8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
– Luke 4:1-13 [NLT]
I’ve never played the game. I suppose it could be fun…for 10-year-olds, or dangerous for 19-year-olds. It’s a game in which you ask questions and people have to agree to tell the truth or accept a dare of some sort. Some questions can be quite intrusive if not quite provocative. One resource offered a tamer list, suggesting that, if you don’t know your fellow players well enough to ask something super-specific about them or their lives, they’ve compiled a list of the 250 best truth or dare questions and dares that they claim will get everyone talking.
Satan plays quite a different game. His is Dare to Lie. He has no compunction of lying about the consequences of following his ways. He told Eve outright that God had lied: “You will not surely die,” he claimed when she first resisted his temptation. Now he lies about the authority he has and the proper way to lay hold of God’s promises. He also dares Jesus to utilize his powers to sate his hunger.
All to no avail when it comes to Jesus. He knows better. He knows that there is no truth in any of Satan’s words. He sees through the dare that Satan holds out, recognizing that it is a ploy to distract him from his mission, and subvert God’s plans for our redemption. But Jesus will not be distracted. God’s plan will prevail. Satan not withstanding.
Jesus is truth incarnate. And his word embodies truth in every letter. He is the way, the truth, and the life. He promises that if we continue in his word we will know the truth, and by that truth find true freedom. And here’s the mystery and paradox of Jesus’ truth: “If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8).
To abide in Jesus’ word and know the truth is to recognize our need for a Savior, to believe in Jesus of Nazareth as the one and only Son of God. It means that we recognize the reign and rule of God in Jesus, repent and believe the gospel. Then we hear him say, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). And believing that we dare not hold to anything that is not truly true. That means holding to Jesus.
On this Valentine’s Day, rejoice in the true love of God – shown in Jesus, and pure and good in every way.