I got a new driver’s license this year. As with seemingly every new ID card I receive, there are new security features to discourage forgery. While many of the more elaborate are marvels of technical engineering, I think the dinosaur skeleton is my favorite. A note of whimsy on a piece of ID where even the hint of a smile is unacceptable.
“If you are the Son of God…”
Matthew 4:3 & 6
Now why didn’t Jesus have an ID card? Seems like it would have come in very handy. Both in the previous episode recorded by Matthew and here in His encounter with Satan. What seems to be at issue is Jesus’ identity? Is He really the Son of God?
The encounter is well known to anyone familiar with the New Testament. Jesus is led into the desert by the Holy Spirit where the devil tests Him, fasting for forty days and forty nights. There is great significance to each test and the dialogue between Man and Accuser. But let’s just focus on the broader picture.
Satan is trying to trick Jesus into proving His identity by Satan’s means. He would like Him to short-circuit His suffering. One detail that is fascinating to me is that it is precisely by resisting the temptation to prove Himself in this way, that Christ so manifestly displays His Godhood. It is in rejecting the wiles of the devil that the light truly shines forth.
I recall an epiphany I had as a teenager. Over the years I had amassed a small CD collection of favorite bands and albums like many my age. There was a part of me that wanted it for ID, like someone of similar interest and an appraising eye could look on it and understand just how cool I really was. The epiphany was that it didn’t matter. I could enjoy a band’s music without buying the CD (or even mp3). I could be who I was going to be, without having to prove myself to someone else. I don’t think the epiphany translated to any other area of my life immediately, but I think successive years may have wrought further change.
I don’t need possessions to define who I am. In fact, most of the identity markers used in Canadian culture are temptations not dissimilar to those Jesus met in the desert. I eschew them. The vehicle I drive does not define who I am. My sexuality does not define who I am. The clothes I wear, the place I live, my hobbies; these all pale in comparison to who I am in Jesus Christ. And when that light shines forth, I am truly myself, in a way that no purchase or piece of plastic could never disclose.
Lord, be my Truth, be my Light.