Witness Protection – Reflection for 10 JUN 2018
I am always fascinated in Scripture that Satan tempts us with what we already have. In the Garden, Satan first asks, “Did God really say?” Adam and Eve have a relationship in which God walks in the Garden with them yet Satan asks if they really know God. Satan then tells them, “If you eat, you will be like God.” Adam and Eve are created in the image of God. They are already like God and yet they eat. They have been tempted by what they already have.
We can see the same pattern in Job as Satan tests Job with a faith that Job already has. Even when Job’s friends doubt his faith, God continues to have faith in Job. We see this pattern as Satan stands ready to accuse Joshua the high priest in Zechariah’s vision. Satan desires to accuse Jerusalem of not being worthy, yet God demonstrates His steadfast love for Israel (Zechariah 3). We see this pattern of temptation with what is already ours in the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Satan begins with, “If you are the Son of God…” Jesus refuses to take the bait and responds with what God really said!
Even knowing Satan’s tricks, I still fall for them. I hear “If God really loves you…” or “If you want to be good enough for God…” and begin to wonder. While a part of me knows that God loves me (and you) and that it is Christ who is good enough for me (and you), there is a part of me that still wonders if God is really that crazy.
In our Gospel today, people begin to wonder if God is crazy. First, the people accuse Jesus of being possessed or in league with Satan. I can almost hear Satan whispering, “Can this really be the power of God to heal?” Next, his own relatives come to take him away. I can hear the whispering all around, “If you love…” or perhaps “If you are loyal…” or even, “If family means something to you…”
In the midst of this, Jesus responds to the lies of Satan with the Truth of God. Jesus makes the bold declaration that you and I are no longer defined by our past, but rather by walking in the love of God. Jesus calls us family when we walk with Him. When we are His witnesses, He gives us a new identity as beloved children of God, heirs with Christ who calls us brother or sister.
Satan still tries to tempt us and test us with what we already have in Christ. He tries to tempt us with brokenness from our childhood or our family. He tempts us to find our identity in our earthly inheritance, circumstances, or achievements. He tempts us to be defined by our genetics or personality.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we have a new identity and a new inheritance, the ultimate witness protection program. We even have a new citizenship in the Kingdom of God. As crazy as it sounds, in our baptism we are welcomed into the Communion of Saints, the family of God. We are called to dine at the Table of the King not as guest but as brothers and sisters. Through the Cross, we are invited to once again walk with God and allow all of the lies to fall away as we rediscover the image of God in which we were created. Since you are Beloved, come let us walk together with God!