Have you ever played the game, would you rather? If not, the title is pretty self-explanatory. For example: Would you rather eat only cheese for the rest of your life, or; never eat cheese again? Would you rather: live somewhere that is always hot, or; live somewhere that is always cold? You get the point right? It’s a game of options, usually extremes; and usually unfavorable. Any time I’ve played this game I usually answer the questions with, “Um I choose secret option C, NEITHER!” or “Secret option C,” and then fill in my answer, which is usually a compromise between the two extremes.
When I think about the life of Jesus He seemed to be presented, a lot, with options. For example when He went back to His own town and was going around healing people and proclaiming to be the Son of God the Pharisees did not like it. They were trying to find any way they could to disprove or discredit who He said He was. So the disciples of John and the Pharisees came to Him with option A: Would you rather: “Fast often like WE do?” Or option B; “Never fast like YOUR disciples do?” They wanted Jesus to either cast judgment on His disciples for not fasting or for Him to cast judgment on John for teaching his disciples to fast often. Jesus always seemed to look at the two options and come up with, what I call, secret option C. He lived in the balance, not holding to either extreme. So in this case he answered, secret option C, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15) Basically Jesus was saying, it is necessary for John’s disciples to fast because John was in prison and they were away from him. However, the disciples of Jesus were spending every moment with Him, therefore they did not need to fast. He was foreshadowing that He would be going away and THEN they would need to fast. He took the two options presented to Him and He came up with a balanced approach that neither judged nor disregarded John’s teachings. Secret option C.
There was also, the time when the woman was caught in the very act of adultery in John 8. The Pharisees came to Jesus and presented Him again with His options. “The law of Moses says such should be stoned.” (John 8:5) Option A: “Would you rather that we uphold the law and stone her?” or Option B: “Would you rather show grace and disregard the law?” The Pharisees were trying to find something to accuse Jesus of and either of the options would have given them just cause to disprove His claims that He is the Son of God. However, once again Jesus replied with secret option c. “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone first.” (John 8:7) He still upheld the law of Moses, yet He knew that no one there was without sin (except Him) so He still showed her grace by not stoning her. Another thing I find interesting is that Jesus was the only one there without sin, yet He didn’t throw a single stone. Therefore, he risked His very own reputation to show her mercy. He risked people believing that he was NOT without sin based on the fact that He did not stone her.
Also when Jesus was in the desert and Satan came to tempt Him. He knew Jesus was hungry, and I believe, he thought that He would be easily tempted. I don’t see why Satan would test Jesus unless he believed that Jesus was weakened both mentally and physically from fasting. For the first test Satan said option A: Would you rather, prove that you are the Son of God and turn these stones into bread. (Knowing that Jesus was starving) Or option B: would you like to starve and disprove your divinity? Then Jesus answered with secret option c “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) He was basically saying, I don’t need to prove myself to you because bread is not what sustains me. Seeing that, that didn’t work Satan changed his game plan a little bit. In all three tests his options were basically; prove you are the Son of God or don’t. He even tried to throw Jesus off by quoting scripture to Him. But Jesus knew the scripture better; and knew what He was called to do. It says that Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tested by Satan. In the message it says “Jesus prepared for the Test by fasting forty days and forty nights.” (Matthew 4:1-3) I find it very interesting that Jesus knew He was going to be tested so He prepared for it. He spent quality time with His father listening to Him, denying his flesh, and strengthening His spirit. I believe that is why Jesus was always able to look at the two options presented to Him and come up with secret option c in all three tests in the wilderness.
I believe that Satan comes to us with two options, and he causes us to believe two things: 1. We only have two options Law or No Law (Grace) & 2. We need to pick between those two options NOW. What I notice about Jesus is He upheld the law with out being legalistic about it. Like when he told the disciples of John that it is good that they fast because John is away and soon His disciples would need to fast too. Yet He did not condemn the disciples for not fasting because it wasn’t their time. He also waited before he responded. Like with the woman caught in adultery, when the Pharisees came to Him he drew in the sand and waited before he responded. And He prepared Himself by fasting and being alone with God before Satan came to test Him. He knew God’s voice, He knew His word, and He knew what sustained Him.
When I think about our secret option c I believe it is the Holy Spirit. I know that in my own life I have chosen between my two options based on other people’s convictions. Some of my friends who have marriages I really admire have a quiet time together, as a couple. Some of my friends whose marriages I really admire do not do quiet times together, they spend time alone with God. So, I would say, “They have a great marriage and they have a quiet time together. Then we need to have a quiet time together.” Or, “They have a great marriage and they have separate quiet times, that’s what we need to do.” Another example is: “You’re a Christian and I admire your life and you think drinking’s wrong, then you’re right it’s wrong.” Or “You have an amazing relationship with the Lord and you think drinking is okay? Then it’s ok.” However, when I live that way I’m in a constant state of confusion. I had to get to the point of saying, “Holy Spirit what are You telling me to do? Is it right FOR ME?” You see when the Pharisees came to Jesus with the woman caught in adultery He could have stoned her. He was the only one there that was without sin. The law justified him in following out the consequence for her action. However, He chose not to because it didn’t seem right FOR Him. When we wait before we respond to the options thrown our way, it gives us time to evaluate the bigger picture. What is the Holy Spirit telling me about this decision? What if Jesus would have said, “The law says to stone her, so stone her.” Would people have believed that He was the Messiah? Also, what statement did it make to the people that He didn’t stone her, could they have thought that He wasn’t without sin? He didn’t care about people’s opinions whether good or bad He only cared about doing the will of the Father. Unless we ask the Holy Spirit how will WE know the will of the Father? How do we prepare for the options that will be thrown our way? In Jesus’ day a lot of times it was the religious people that were testing Him. How do we prepare ourselves for tests thrown our way from both Christians and non-Christians?
I have decided to follow the pattern that I feel Jesus laid out for us. I want to wait and not rush into making a decision. I want to know the law of God and man and uphold it while still living under grace. Again, by asking the Holy Spirit “Even though this is lawful is it right for me?” I want to prepare myself for the tests that will come my way by spending time with God and getting to know the Holy Spirit deeper. By doing so I too will be able to know, secret option c.