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Relevant Verses: Matt 4:1–11; Deut 8:3

Theme: The Importance of Deuteronomy for Jesus

Leading Question: Is the law still important even for Christ?

There are about 60 references to the book of Deuteronomy in the New Testament, with 44 direct quotes. Jesus quoted and used the book of Deuteronomy more than any other book in the Old Testament. In Matt 4:1–11 he used Deut 8:3; 6:16; and 6:13 to counter Satan’s temptations. Acts 10:34 references Deut 10:17 that God doesn’t show favoritism. Paul speaks of the “Book of the Law” in Gal. 3:10 and references Deut 27:26. In Gal 3:13 he references Deut 21:23. Luke quotes Deut 18:18 and applies the prophecy to Jesus (Acts 7:37). Two verses from Deut 32 are referenced in Heb 10:28–31.

Read Matt 4:1–11.

Note how John T. Carroll (New Testament professor at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia) interprets Matt 4:1–11:

Though seemingly driven by the devil, the ordeal of testing is actually depicted as divinely purposed: the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the desert for the purpose of undergoing the devil’s testing (4:1). Publicly revealed by heaven to be the beloved Son of God (3:17—“this is” differs from “you are” in Mark 1:11), Jesus must embrace a particular understanding of that status: “If [indeed] you are the Son of God . . .” (Matt 4:3, 6). Not exploiting special powers to benefit himself, not expecting divine intervention to rescue him from mortal danger at the Temple Mount, not coveting glorious rule over the nations at the expense of loyalty to God, but—as 3:15 anticipates and the course of Jesus’ ensuing ministry will confirm—a life of integrity, obedient to God’s purpose, so as “to fulfill all righteousness.” The wilderness testing presents Jesus’ “no” to a wrongly conceived messianic vocation. The rest of the story will display the content of his “yes” to God.

Question: How do Jesus’ three references from the book of Deuteronomy relate his “no” to what Carroll calls “a wrongly conceived messianic vocation”? How would such a “no” look like in our time today?

Read Deut 10:17–19.

Question: How do the NT authors make use of Deuteronomy 10:17 in Acts 10:34, Romans 2:11, Galatians 2:6, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 3:25, and 1 Peter 1:17? What is the significance of the diverse use of the same text? How do we, as community of Jesus’ followers, still show partiality? How can we counteract the tendency for partiality in today’s world?

What is the definition of a stranger in the context of Deuteronomy? It could mean one of the original inhabitants of the land of Canaan. It could mean one of the “mixed multitude” who left Egypt with the Israelites. It might mean a foreigner who has entered the land seeking safety or a livelihood. Sometimes the stranger is mentioned along with the poor; at others, with the widow and orphan. On several occasions we read: “You shall have the same law for the stranger as for the native-born” (Exod 12:49; Lev 24:22; Num 15:16, 29). Not only must the stranger not be wronged; he or she must be included in the positive welfare provisions of Israelite society.

But the law goes beyond this; the stranger must be loved: “When a stranger lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. The stranger living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were strangers in Egypt. I am the Lord your God” (Lev 19:33–34). This provision appears in the same chapter as the command, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev 19:18). Later, in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses makes it clear that this is the attribute of God Himself: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger residing among you, giving them food and clothing. You are to love those who are strangers, for you yourselves were strangers in Egypt” (Deut 10:17–19).

To convey God’s reason to include and love the stranger is because you once stood where he stands now. You know the heart of the stranger because you were once a stranger in the land of Egypt. If you are human, so is he. If he is less than human, so are you. I made you into the world’s archetypal strangers so that you would fight for the rights of strangers – for your own and those of others, wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever the colour of their skin or the nature of their culture, because though they are not in your image, says God, they are nonetheless in Mine. There is only one reply strong enough to answer the question: Why should I not hate the stranger? Because the stranger is me.

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