Posted by: mikenicholsblog | March 25, 2012

a complete picture

If you were to ask my wife Genel and I to give our thoughts on any subject, you would receive truthful answers, but from different perspectives. Genel would be more detailed and I would be more bottom-line. Her answers will always be filtered through her personality, background and being female. From me, answers will have a southern, male version of the same situation filtered through life experiences and personality. It is my opinion that listening to both of our truthful versions will also give a better and more complete answer to the subject we are discussing. When God chose to give us insight into the life of Christ, His method was often to give us His truth from different perspectives. And putting the different perspectives together provides a more complete picture. Take the temptation of Christ for example.

You have undoubtedly read or been taught about the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. The big details are easy to remember. He fasted for forty days and forty nights. There was an epic battle between Satan and Christ that included three specific temptations. Christ defended himself with God’s Word. More than one gospel writer tells the story, and we could just look at each individually.  But if we view each account of this scene in the gospels collectively, the picture becomes far more complete than just understanding some key details.

What most of us think about the temptation of Christ probably comes from the book of Matthew. This account gives a great summary of the three temptations following the forty days and forty nights of fasting. But to complete the picture of this wilderness experience the Father chose to give us accounts in Mark and Luke. Reading what Mark and Luke wrote doesn’t change the truth of the events, but helps us gain a broader perspective.

Mark only gave two verses to the temptation. But when you read his account, it becomes clear that Christ was tempted during the whole forty days. Luke also gives insight that the temptation lasted throughout the wilderness experience. Without reading all the passages, you and I could falsely assume from Matthew that the only temptations happened after He fasted for the forty days and forty nights. Mark also states that; He was with the wild animals, and angels attended to him. Mark’s attention was brief and to the point (he didn’t mention the three specific temptations). But when we know about the wild animals and care of the angels, it only heightens the fierceness of the battle.  

Luke reversed the order of the last two temptations as stated in Matthew. One opinion of the reversal is that Matthew listed the temptations chronologically and Luke listed them in order of significance. Luke also ends this section of Scripture with words not seen in the other passages; When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Obviously the wilderness was not the last of Satan’s temptations of Christ, which would culminate in Gethsemane.

God gave us the truth of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness in three gospels. Reading one account without the others would give us less than a complete picture. Often, in our study of Scripture we can miss the fullness of meaning because we don’t get a complete picture.

In the next few months, we at Journey onWord want to help you learn more of Christ by completing the picture. Our Bible readings each week will focus on an event in His life, and will include passages from the 2, 3 or 4 gospel writers who told the story. Consider reading and growing in Christ with us!


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