Suspending the Laws of Physics

December 15th, 2012

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:5-7 NRSV)

I LOVE TO BE DARING—not too daring, but just a bit. I like to ski, fast. I enjoy riding my motorcycle with the wind at my face and the pavement under my feet. I like to hike in the mountains, getting fairly close to the edge.

I enjoy taking mission trips to developing nations, hiking alone with a backpack across Israel, and traveling to retrace Moses’ life even as Egypt is experiencing turmoil. These things all come with risks. I try to calculate those risks and minimize them by, for example, wearing a helmet when riding my motorcycle or avoiding trips to locations that are too dangerous. But I’m also aware that there is some element of risk in almost everything we do. It’s impossible to avoid completely. Every time I get in my car to drive, there is risk involved.

Do I believe that because I am a Christian, a pastor, a tither or because I carry a Bible in my back pocket every day, nothing bad will happen to me? No. Bad things happen to Christians, to pastors, and to tithers. I knew a man who died while showing off driving his very fast car. His friends were angry, wanting to know how God could have let it happen. The man was in the prime of life, was the father of two children, and he was a follower of Jesus. But the laws of physics still applied.

This is part of what I think the devil meant when he suggested that Jesus jump from the pinnacle of the Temple. The devil even quoted one of the beautiful Psalms of promise: “Jump, Jesus, for the Scripture says he protects those he loves, and he’ll protect you” (Matthew 4:6, paraphrase). In jumping, Jesus could prove to himself, and to all in the Temple courts, that he really was the Son of God. But Jesus responded, “It is also written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” In other words, even Jesus wasn’t expecting God to suspend the laws of physics if he jumped.

Jesus, at times I’ve been confused by the tragedies that happen in our world. I want you to suspend the laws of nature and protect those I love, and yet I see that even you did not expect this from the Father. Help me to live wisely, and to trust that in living and dying I will belong to you. Amen.

excerpt from: The Way: 40 Days of Reflections by Adam Hamilton Copyright©2013 by Abingdon Press. Used with permission.

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