Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
And do not lead us into temptation.
This is the sixth petition of the Lord's Prayer as found in Matthew 6:12. Dr. Martin Luther, in his Small Catechism, explains it in this way:
What does this mean? God, by the way, does not tempt anyone; but we pray in this petition so that God will take care of us and keep us, so that the devil, the world and our flesh do not deceive us, nor seduce us to false belief, or to despair and other great shames and vices; and although we are assaulted by them, so that we can still overcome and gain the victory.
However, the Scriptures speak of two types of temptation. There are the traps of the devil, the world and our flesh of which the Lord speaks in the Our Father. Their goal is to deceive us into surrendering to our doom. Against them, let us ask for help and protection from the Lord and his angels.
On the other side, caring parents allow their children to take their first steps without touching them, for the little ones to learn how to walk. In this way God tempted Abraham, as say the older revisions of the Reina-Valera. The most contemporary translation is "God tested Abraham", but the meaning is the same. God put Abraham to the test, not to deceive him, but to teach him and grow his faith.
Isaac was the son promised to Abraham in his old age, for the fulfillment of the promise of descendants as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shores of the sea; also, the promise of a Descendant that would be a blessing to all nations. How strange, then, when God sent Abraham to offer Isaac as a burnt offering! The sacrifice of the children was typical of the pagan gods, not God who cared for and blessed Abraham and his house, even to save his nephew Lot from the destruction of Sodom. But, his faith clung to the promise of the Lord, recounting that God could raise up Isaac, even from the dead, according to the author of the letter to the Hebrews (Hebrews 11: 17-19).
"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises, offered his only begotten son, having been told: In Isaac shall it be called seed; thinking that even of the dead is God powerful to raise; from where he also received him again figuratively. "
Notice: Abraham was saved by faith in the promises of God apart from the works of the Law, as St. Paul says (Romans 4: 1-16). In addition, this faith included trust in the power of God to resurrect the promised Seed from death. Abraham trusted in the promise of the Savior of all nations and His resurrection from the dead, because God in this way revealed His plan of salvation to Abraham. He did not have the testimony of the apostles, but because of the replacement of Isaac by a ram, he understood that God never breaks his promises.
But, the Word of God is never broken in any way. God did not deceive Abraham. He commanded the sacrifice of the Son of Abraham, not in the person of Isaac, but in the person of Jesus Christ. To be the Savior, the blessing of all nations, the Seed of Abraham, the Lamb of God, would have to die for the sins of all mankind. This same Seed, Jesus, understood everything in His moment of trial.
Our gospel for today (Matthew 4: 1-11) reads: "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil." Satan tried to trick Jesus into diverting from the way to the cross. This was the whole point of temptations to materialism, vainglory and violence. The marks of a false messiah are the abuse of power to satisfy the desires of the flesh, to win the admiration of the multitude and to establish the kingdom of God by the sword. But, by the use of His power like this, Jesus could not have freed us from the condemnation of our sins. Only by dying in our places could He have done this.
Because Jesus passed the test of God also. His heavenly Father allowed the devil to attack Jesus to clarify his lying nature and weakness in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus chose the road to Golgotha, as Abraham chose the road to Mount Moriah. In both cases, God fulfilled his Word.
Abraham trusted tin he Word of God that he had and it was counted to him as righteousness. Now we have the full revelation of the Word of God in Jesus Christ. We must trust in all the Word that comes from the mouth of God, which we find in the Holy Scriptures, not only in part, because the devil and his servants, the prophets and false teachers of today, can use pieces to distort the message and deceive us. Those who believed in the full Word have the gift of the same saving faith of Abraham and the patriarchs.
In that, we can have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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