I’ve been working for the past couple of months on original worship music inspired by the gospel of Luke – the focus of The Gospel Coalition conference next spring. The folks from Sojourn Music are working with the Gospel Coalition to curate an album of original worship music drawing from Luke’s Gospel to be featured at the conference. The deadline for ‘Songs for Luke’ project is fast approaching – August 15th.
Below is a piece I wrote from Luke 4 – where Jesus is led into the wilderness after his baptism by the Spirit. Not sure why I choose this passage initially. The episodic back and forth between Satan and Jesus felt like it would structure well for verse/choruses. I pretty quickly came up with words and tune (the last chorus was first). After some great initial suggestions from friends (You can read Nathan Partain’s comments below the song lyrics) I expanded it out to the current form.
Hopefully it will encourage you to write and submit something. It’s a great exercise in the process of reading scripture and trying to interpret it in song for a congregation to sing.
For 40 days and 40 nights – Jesus was in the wilderness
A Spirit guide, a holy fast – while Jesus was in the wilderness
Now Satan struck and Satan talked
When Satan tempted the Saviors walk
but hollow words were all he served
When Jesus was in the wilderness
Man shall not live by bread alone, no they shall not (3x)
Our Savior is heaven’s manna now
Where Adam fled, our Jesus held – When tempted in the wilderness
Where Israel failed, our Lord prevailed – When tempted in the wilderness
Now Jesus spoke, what Moses wrote
The Word of God, how he could quote
And Satan left him, for he was choked
When Jesus passed through wilderness
Now, You shall worship your God alone, that’s what he said (3x)
Lord Jesus will judge by his own head
The Son of God, was full of power – When led into temptations hour
The Red Sea rose, the Jordan flowed – When Jesus walked through the wilderness
By Word alone, by God alone
Jesus transcended the sand and stone
By speaking true, and holding fast
Jesus was Israel’s true repast
You shall not, put the Lord to Test – No, You shall not (3x)
True Israel has come in righteousness!
By God Alone, by faith alone, by Jesus alone
By word alone, by the cross alone, by grace alone
Words and Music: Bruce Benedict, 2012 © Cardiphonia Music
I shared an initial draft with a few songwriting friends. Below is an incredible email I got from Songwriter and Worship Leader Nathan Partain after reading my first draft…
“As a quick aside, reading this passage again and looking at the references that Jesus is quoting, I am struck by the contrast between Jesus and Israel in the wilderness in addition to Jesus and Adam, especially since all of Jesus’ quotes contrast Israel’s behavior in the wilderness. And the essence of the failure and victory is the same with Adam as with Israel: neither believed God to be good or faithful to his word when tested. You could allude to this in stanza three if you wanted:
Where Israel failed, our Lord prevailed
when tempted in the wilderness
Where Adam fled, our Jesus held
When tempted in the wilderness
Anyway, back to the chorus. Jesus has just heard God say audibly in front of witnesses, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Satan is directly attacking those words (“if you are the Son of God”), tempting Jesus in three different ways to doubt and Jesus is answering from Moses’ sermon in the first chapters of Deuteronomy. He responded first basically that God’s testimony about him feeds his soul like heavenly manna and so he needs no other food, and secondly that he reveres/will submit to no other God, even though immediately after testifying about him as his “beloved Son” his God and Father has led him directly into testing, weakness, temptation, lack and suffering instead of immediate glory and authority. So when he gets to the quote about putting God to the test, Jesus through Moses’ sermon is alluding to when the Israelites were in the wilderness at Massa (or “Testing”) and they doubted God (just days after he had rained down manna to teach them that man lives not by bread but by every word that comes from the mouth of God). They doubted that he cared for his people and in fact accused him (and Moses) of just tricking them to come out into the desert so that he could have some sick pleasure in watching them die like naive trusting fools. Jesus could have felt the exact same way after what he had heard and been through and that is why it was such a temptation.
So Jesus, when he responds this way to Satan is saying, “I refuse to prove or test what God has said by showing that he will catch me if I jump. I trust his testimony that I am his beloved Son, even though I am tired, hungry and now being tempted.” In this way Jesus is facing off with the “did God really say” of Satan in the garden and overcoming what Adam and his descendants, Israel, could not do when tested and tried by hunger and thirst in the wilderness.
So, having said all of that…I would be trying to write something about how Jesus trusted, resisted doubt or believed Gods testimony despite the wilderness or something that brings glory to the beautiful truth of what God has spoken over Adam, Israel, Jesus and now us Gentiles – that we are his beloved. I think that would make the repitition of “you shall not put the Lord to test” powerful if the final line expressed some sort of idea like that.”