ODJ: the trick of misdirection

December 8, 2015 

READ: Matthew 4:1-11 

During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread” (v.3).

I recently watched a thought-provoking TED (Technology, Education, and Design) talk where a street magician spoke on the power of misdirection. Our brains have difficulty focusing on two things at once, and magicians exploit this by drawing our attention to one thing so that we won’t notice that they’re doing something else. In the video, the speaker so dazzled the audience with a series of magic tricks that they failed to realize that he had actually changed his clothes during the performance!

There’s a similar trick at work in the temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). In the previous passage, in which Jesus was baptized, God the Father called Jesus His beloved and pleasing Son (3:17)—just as any good father would. But what’s interesting is how the enemy addressed Jesus in the temptation. Satan specifically omits the part about Jesus being beloved and pleasing, and instead calls into question His identity as the Son of God: “If you are the Son of God . . .” (4:3,6). The enemy does this on purpose, knowing that if Jesus were reminded of the Father’s love for Him, he would have no chance to tempt Christ to fail to do His Father’s will. It was a trick of misdirection on a grand and cosmic scale!

The devil did the same thing to Eve in the garden of Eden, suggesting that God didn’t want her to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because He didn’t want her to become powerful, not because He loved her (Genesis 3:4-5). And once she doubted that God cared for her, the fall was imminent.

Let’s plant our eyes firmly on our loving God (Romans 8:38-39). If our eyes are fixed there, the enemy doesn’t stand a chance to trick us!

—Peter Chin

365-day-plan: Colossians

Read Lamentations 3:22-27 for a beautiful description of God’s love and how steadfast and faithful He is. 
How do you celebrate God’s love for you? What are the circumstances or emotions that cause you to doubt His care and love?