Avoiding the test

February 24, 2012

Walter Brueggemann, in his commentary on the binding of Isaac in Genesis 22, offers the following insight into temptation.

In our sophistication, we may find the notion of “testing” primitive. But Christians may take no comfort that this is in the Old Testament. The same issue is clear in the New Testament. Nowhere is it more visible than in the Lord’s prayer. How odd that settled, complacent believers pray regularly, “lead us not into temptation” (Matt. 6:13; Luke 11:4). The prayer commended by Jesus is that God should not put us in a testing situation where we are driven to choose, decide, and risk for our faith. The prayer is the petition that our situation of faith may not be so urgent that we will be found out. The prayer bespeaks fear that we will be found wanting if such testing comes.

Walter Brueggemann, Interpretation: Genesis (Atlanta: John Knox, 1982), 190-1.

One Response to “Avoiding the test”

  1. Tom Harkins Says:

    I totally agree with this. “Let him who thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall.” Peter said, “Though all others fail you, I won’t! I am even willing to die for you!” So he got to be tested on that level, and failed.

    It is interesting to me that this suggests that, though this is the model prayer, this does not mean all the pleas in it will always be answered, “Yes.” Although Jesus could be a “special case” in that regard, nevertheless in his “man-ness” he was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness, to be tempted by the devil.” Also, James 1:2-4 suggests that trials can be good things, to strengthen us. But the point is precisely our attitude about such things–that though undoubtedly some trials will come, and, if passed, will be beneficial, nevertheless we must not be so bold as to presume we will pass–that very boldness itself often pressaging failure (as with Peter).


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