“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:14)
What is Jesus saying here? It seems he is asking his Father in Heaven to “not” lead him down this path. Interestingly enough, his request contradicts the very thing the Spirit of God led him to do only two chapters earlier. Matthew tells us Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for forty days (Matthew 4:1-11).
Looking further back in scriptural history, we know God allowed Job to experience testing and trial from the evil one (Job 1:6-9). Israel was led into the wilderness for a time of testing (Hebrews 3:7-9). And this type of suffering is to be an expected theme in the lives of God-fearers – everywhere from the Garden of Eden to Christ’s return (Genesis 3, James 5:7-11). So, what is Jesus really getting at here when we know God does, in fact, lead his people into seasons of testing?
To answer this, let’s start by asking a different question. What is Jesus modeling for us? Yes, we know God sometimes does lead his people into seasons of hardship. Jesus just experienced this, yet we hear Jesus pleading his father to never do that again. Jesus continued to model this when he pleaded with his Father to relieve him of the unbearable suffering at the cross (Matthew 26:42).
Jesus models a childlike plea. He’s not afraid to ask his father to remove hardships in the form of temptation and testing. He models for us that it’s okay to beg God to remove the hardship. It’s good to be like a child in our requests before him and to ask even for things we assume he will deny.
Today, sit with Jesus at a table and imagine him sipping tea or coffee with you. What do you want to ask him to do for you? How does he respond to your request?