Have you ever notices that Jesus gets the same challenge at the very beginning and at the very end of his work on earth? If you are the Son of God …
Right at the start of his ministry, Jesus was challenged by the devil. If you are the Son of God make this stone turn to bread. If you are the Son of God throw yourself off this tower. If you are the Son of God … if … if
Funny that. Because the devil knew perfectly well that Jesus was. (Why else would the devil have bothered trying to tempt him?) And do we really think that if Jesus had provided proof, that the devil would have mended his ways and become a good little Christian? I think not.
And then again, at the end of his time on earth. “Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” (Matt 27:40) “Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” (Mark 15:32) They had already seen and not believed. Would one more miracle have made any difference? I think not.
If you are the Son of God … if … if. Doubting his purpose, his relationship, his assurance of his place in heaven.
It is the same voice that spoke in the desert, speaking through a different person. We can hear that voice too. ‘Call yourself a Christian?’, it taunts. ‘You’re not really saved. If you were, you’d not have …’ The voice can come from outside – from family or colleagues – or more often, from inside. How many of us have heard that nagging voice? ‘God can’t really love you. That’s only for proper, good Christians, not failures like you.’
It is the same voice. And it still lies.
It is making us doubt our relationship with God, our place at his table. But that relationship is not based on how ‘good’ a Christian we are (if there is any measure of that – there is no inspection agency or star rating). Our membership of God’s family is due to God alone. There is nothing that we have done that has merited our adoption as sons and daughters, and there is nothing we have to do to remain.
When God had finished creating the world and filling it with plants and animals, he looked at what he had made and felt lonely. It was good, but there was no-one with whom God could have a relationship. God loves relationship. In the same way that Adam looked at creation and found no companion suitable for him, so God looked at what he had made and found no family, and so he made people.
All through the Bible, from Gen 17:7 to Rev 21:3, we find the repeated promise of relationship: ‘You will be my people and I will be your God.’ This is the family that God has been planning from the beginning, and the devil’s biggest lie is that you are not worthy of being part of it.
Actually, that bit is not a lie. You are not worthy. Neither am I. The lie is that being unworthy is what counts. No-one is acceptable but Jesus. But the wonderful Good News is that God adopts us unworthy ones because of the full worthy-ness of Jesus. And on that alone. We do not have to earn our place at his table, and we do not lose it for failing to live up to his or our standards.
That is not to say that we should give up trying to please our Lord, of course. But we need to be assured that our salvations is not, and never has been, dependent on what we do or don’t do.
We don’t need to listen to the lies. If we have placed our lives in the hands of God, if we are playing on his team now, if we have turned from darkness into his glorious light then “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. … The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Rom 8:1,16)
How can we be sure? We read it in scripture. After all the doubt, the taunting, the tempting, Jesus died. The price was paid. The curtain of the temple was torn in two and the way to God was opened. The very next words were, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”
The cross on Good Friday did it. The empty tomb on Easter Sunday proved it. If you are a son or daughter of God?
Think back to a time when you feel you have failed to live up to God’s standards. Consider and give thanks for the great mercy of him who knows and yet still loves.
To help us think about remember what Jesus’ death and resurrection can mean for us, we will make some Empty Cave Croissants
Empty Cave Croissants
- 500g puff-pastry block (makes 18)
320g ready-rolled puff-pastry sheet (makes 12)
- Sweet spices, (eg cinnamon and nutmeg)
- A little brown sugar
- 1 egg (beaten)
- Preheat oven to 200⁰C / 400⁰F / Gas Mark 6
- If using ready-rolled sheet, roll out lightly to about 40cm x 25cm (15” x 10”) and cut into six 13cm (5“) squares
- If using puff pastry block, roll out to about a 40cm (15”) square and cut into nine 13cm (5“) squares
- Stretch each square slightly into a rectangle then cut each rectangle diagonally into two triangles
- Make a small slit in the shortest side of each triangle, opposite the sharp point
- Dampen a marshmallow then roll it in the spices so that it is heavily coated
- Place the marshmallow near the slit end of a triangle and fold the pastry over the marshmallow
- Dampen and pinch the pastry both sides to stop the marshmallow oozing out, then roll up to form the croissant
- Pull the sides of the roll out slightly and curve to form the crescent shape
- Place on greased baking sheet, brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with a little brown sugar
- Bake for 15 mins until golden and yummy and – like the garden cave on Easter Sunday morning – empty inside!
Loving, risen Lord,
Your death on the cross paid the price for my unworthiness and opened the way to God.
Your resurrection was my certificate of adoption and the seal of my salvation.
Thank you for redeeming me.
Thank you for accepting me.
Thank you that I am part of your family, for ever.