“If you are the Son of God”

  • Pete Johnson
Man holding his hands out on top of a mountain

We are human. The effects of sin have permeated us through and through. The reality is that there is no escape from sin’s effect on us until we lay aside our earthly bodies. Because of this problem, even as believers who have been justified through faith, we have strong tendencies. We tend to demand and expect actions and things from others solely for our benefit. If we are honest with ourselves, we not only demand and expect things from others that benefit us, but we also do the same toward God.    

In the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 4:1–11, Matthew writes about Jesus’ temptation by Satan in the wilderness. This very important passage is about how Jesus, even in his humanity, was able to resist the devil, setting an example for us.   Hebrews 4:15 is a reminder of this very thing.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

But if we look a little closer, we find that it may also reveal a lot about ourselves; not that we are following Jesus’ example, but sadly, how we follow Satan’s.

In Satan’s temptation of Jesus, he attempted to get Jesus to prove that he was the son of God through two acts.

Through the act of provision, and protection.

 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”  But he answered, “It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple  and said 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, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

This event came soon after Jesus’ baptism where God the Father announced,

 “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17


Even those who were gathered around the cross while Jesus was suffering for the sin of the world had the same mindset.

“ And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt. 27:39-40)

Tragically, many Christians today have been taught falsely that Jesus is just waiting for their demands for health, wealth, and prosperity to prove to them that he is the Son of God. “If you are the Son of God” then prove it to me! Do something for me!

How often do we find in ourselves that very mindset; requesting that Jesus prove who he is by what he will give us, or do for us? When we find ourselves in a bad place do we pray, “God do this for me and I’ll believe in you.” “Let me have this, and I promise I’ll serve you.”? Do we even sometimes think that we know better than Jesus, and know what Jesus should do in a certain situation?  We can all fall prey to this sinful human way of thinking spurred on by Satan.

Matthew records an incident regarding this very thing.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.  And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.”  But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” Matthew 16:21-23

When we demand that Jesus prove to us that he is The son of God, we are acting like the devil himself. Christ proved that he was the Son of God through His death, burial, and resurrection, which provided forgiveness of sins and eternal life for sinful humans.  That should be enough to say, like the centurion who stood beside the cross

“When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”  Matthew 27:54