"As Saint Paul writes, what has been 'written in former days was written for our instruction' (Romans 15:4). The commandments constitute us, remind us of both God's grace and how we can live faithfully together in that grace. The Ten Words are especially instructive in Lent, all the more as we see how Jesus answers his Tempter by means of the constituting word of scripture" (Steagald, p. 39).
Scripture: Matthew 4:3-4 (GNT)
Then the Devil came to him and said, “If you are God's Son, order these stones to turn into bread.” But Jesus answered, “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’”
The Ten Commandments, the Scriptures, the words of God – these constituted the people of Israel as a nation, and they formed Jesus in who he was and what he was to do. That's why, when the tempter came, Jesus was able to resist – because he remembered the words of God and how they had formed him. The words of God are also formational for us – if we allow them to be.
It is because we can recall words that we remember who and whose we are. Marriage vows. The material we teach. The first time a child calls our name – mama, dada, grandma, grandpa, Aunt "Weeda." The oath taken to defend our country or to become a US citizen. All of these are words that we hopefully take very seriously and call to mind whenever we need a reminder of who we are and what we are called to.
While the words of scripture may tell us stories of a bygone era, they do not fail to also tell us the truth. A truth that remains in any time and place. The truth about who we are, the things we desire, and the God we seek to know.
Many have moved away from considering the words of scripture to be important, declared the book useless. But for me, they have been and continue to be authoritative, truthful, and of significant value in this journey of faith. If I did not have the words of scripture from so long ago, I don't know that I could understand the words that God speaks to me today.
My life's verse from the Bible has been Proverbs 3:5-6 (ERV): "Trust the Lord completely, and don’t depend on your own knowledge. With every step you take, think about what God wants, and God will help you go the right way."
As I travel through this Lenten season, I'd like to think that perhaps Jesus called to mind these words, and it was because he did not depend on his own knowledge but instead looked to God that he was able to emerge from the wilderness and fulfill his purpose. As I seek to walk in the ways of Christ, perhaps I too can fulfill my purpose. Perhaps we all can.