Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Goading Jesus Into a Middle School Fight

Suggested Reading: Matthew 4:1-11

In junior high, I had a run in with a student who was much larger than me. I was in the cafeteria before school with a friend who was trying to mess with me by marking on my book covers. I marked on his in return only to discover that the books in front of my friend were not his at all. They belonged to a much larger individual who was not happy with me...and I had unknowingly marked on his Malcolm X doodle.  He wanted me to fight him then and there but I refused, insisting that I had thought the book was my friend's and that I intended no disrespect. When the bell rang, this student followed me down the hall, hitting me in the back of the head every few feet. Later, at lunch, he cornered me and pushed me off the two-foot cement wall I had been sitting on. I "ninja rolled" back into a standing position and sat down as if nothing had ever happened. He was trying to goad me into a fight, attempting to embarrass me and make me angry, and I refused to play his way. I refused to allow him to dictate my actions. Two days later, when I was asked about a rumor that I was a second degree black belt (I wasn't), I simply responded, "That's why I don't have to fight."

I am not the only one who has ever been the object of manipulation, who was goaded by someone wanting a specific response. In Matthew chapter 4, we read the account of the temptations of Jesus. A common theme running through the Devil's first two temptations was an attempt to goad Jesus into doing something. In the first temptation, the devil said,  “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” in the second temptation, he said,  “If you are the Son of God, jump off [this cliff]." (Matthew 4:3,6, NLT). In both instances, the devil tried to goad Jesus by getting him to prove himself, but that tactic only works on the insecure, on people who are uncertain of themselves and their gifts. If you are secure in who you are, those kinds of attacks cannot work.

That junior high student was unable to goad me into fighting because I knew who I was and refused to be manipulated. Jesus refused as well, knowing that the enemy's manipulation had no real power and that he had no need to prove himself. This should be our standard mode of operation. We have no need to prove ourselves, we must only be concerned with obeying the Father.

Rest secure in who you are as a child of the Father. Don't let anyone goad you into sin.

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