Then the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone/these stones to become a loaf/loaves of bread.” (Luke 4:3)
Does this statement of the devil question whether Jesus is the Son of God or Messiah? There is debate over the force of the word “if” [ei].
Ei is a conditional particle; if, whether, for-as-much-as, in-as-much, if, that, ([al-]) though, whether. Yes it may be true that as it appears on the surface the devil is questioning whether Jesus is the Son of God. However the particle [ei] also contains the sense of “since”. “Since you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” As you can see it changes the force of the statement completely. So which is it? Is it “if you are Son of God” or “since you are the son of God”. The primary force of the word “ei” is if. This particle normally introduces a clause of conditionality. In most case we would assume doubt as to whether the statement which follows is a truism or not. If that is the case then doubt is being cast here as to whether Jesus really is the Son of God or Messiah. However there is also a chance that ei carries the force of since, meaning because you are (since) then demonstrate it by telling this stone to become a loaf of bread.
There are numbers of commentators who feel the devil knows Jesus is the Son of God. The grammatical force of this statement if to assume the fact rather than to doubt the veracity. The temptation was not to doubt the fact of Jesus being Son of God but to require Him to prove it. On the other hand there are those who feel the purpose of the temptation is to cause Jesus to doubt the fact, not that satan doubted it. Geldenhuys, Hendriksen, Lenski and Plummer in their commentaries believe the force is in getting Jesus to doubt His role. There are those who feel it is case of getting Jesus to doubt His role as Messiah or God’s faithfulness to Him. God acknowledges Jesus at His baptism as His beloved son in whom He is well pleased. But now why is Jesus hungry and stuck in the wilderness. All outward signs say He is suffering and that is not in keeping with Him being Son of God. How can the Son of God be hungry? That is ridiculous. That is the thrust of satan’s challenge.
Now I want to quote another source, yet another NZ housewife. Come on ladies! Bring on the challenge to the guys. This time Shelley writes: I am convinced that the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness because Jesus was to take back, as the second Adam, that which the first Adam lost. He did not go to be tempted, he went to take back, to succeed where Adam had failed. I cannot see that at any time Almighty God was in a position of being subjugated to the devil – do the areas of temptation that Adam and Eve fell in, find a parallel in the temptation of Jesus? Shelley thinks so.
I think I will leave it there for today. I think I have given you enough to think about. I have to be careful to not challenge you all too much. I was told, in the supermarket today by someone who gets Gems, that my comments on Luke’s genealogies made her head spin. I wouldn’t want to do that too much. I will stop before I cause you to get dizzy and fall down. Still more to come on the temptations. These temptations are important believe me. Ponder that if your head is not already spinning. I agree with Shelley. I think there is connection with the original temptation and this series here.
Bumper Sticker: “If you love Jesus, tithe! Any fool can honk.”Anon
Jesus is NOT my crutch – I’m FAR MORE DEPENDENT on Him that that! I can’t even guarantee my next breath without God’s grace.Rick Warren
Walking in the will of God is not about easy … it’s about loving Jesus enough to live life His way, not my way.Wendy Treat
Jesus became what we are that he might make us what he is.Athenasius of Alexandria