Temptation: Jesus Identifies with Us

by Sean Foster on March 9, 2014

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone.’” Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.
A-men.

How many of you gave up something for Lent?

Now, before I ask you what you gave up, let me ask: What you gave up, does it benefit you, or does it actually draw you closer to God? Lots of people will give up chocolate for 40 days, but I’m not sure what giving up chocolate has to do with establishing a closer relationship with God.

Today, we begin our Lenten journey to the cross where Jesus is crucified for our sins.

One of the blogs I follow as written by Rachel Evans, she asks a number of questions that she will be considering on her journey through Lent this year. Let me share some of them with you.

The first question she asks:
1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different? What am I preparing for?
2. Is there a habit or sin in my life that repeatedly gets in the way of loving God with my whole heart or loving my neighbor as myself?

Some really engaging stuff for those of us who want to go a little deeper with our spirituality and relationship with God through this 40 days and nights of Lent.

Lent is a 40 day season, and as X read to us from our lesson today in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus spends 40 days and nights in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. The text actually reads that Jesus ate nothing during that time.

So, one of the things we learn is that Jesus our Savior – He knows what it is to be tempted to sin. I mean, drink that in for a moment. That fact that God is able to identify with us in our weakness, when we are tempted to sin.

I don’t know any other God like this. God became man. Man did not become God! God became man and lived among us, and faced temptation to sin. Jesus faced temptation, but he did not sin. and lived among us and faced temptation.

I think Luke is doing something theologically for us here, but we actually need to go back to chapter three to understand the full impact of what was happening. In chapter three, Jesus is baptized, and then Luke gives us a genealogy of Jesus family line.

So in chapter three, Luke tells us that Jesus is about 30 years of age. He goes out to the Jordan where John the Baptist is baptizing.
• Jesus himself is baptized by John.
• And when he is baptized, the holy Spirit descends upon him like a dove.
• And then a voice from heaven speaks out: This is my Son in whom I am well pleased. (Luke 3:22)
o Those words will actually become important for us in our lesson today.

Then Luke shares Jesus genealogy: His family tree. Matthew’s Gospel also shares a genealogy of Jesus that goes all the way back to King David – to show that Jesus is part of David’s Royal line. Luke goes all the way back to Adam.

The reason he does this is because Jesus picks up where Adam leaves off. Adam falls into sin and is cast into the wilderness. And Jesus, the first Adam falls into sin and is cast out into the wilderness. And the first thing Jesus does in His ministry – he goes out into the wilderness to do battle with the devil.

Paul the Apostle has this same thinking, he also refers to Jesus as the second Adam. (I Corinthians 15:45) Adam who fell into sin, Jesus who rescues us from it. Paul writes this: In Adam all will die, but so in Christ, all will be made alive.

The first thing Jesus does in his ministry is to go out into the dessert and face battle with the devil. And not for himself, for us.
• That our God is able to identify with us.
• He knows what it is to be tempted into sin.
• To show us that we resist the devil and his temptations.
• That we not fall into sin.

When is it that we usually fall into sin? Usually, granted not always, but usually:
• When we are alone.
• And when we are weak.

Jesus is alone in the desert, and he is fasting. He hasn’t eaten. For forty days, Jesus fasts and Satan, the devil tempts him to sin. Not only does Jesus forgive us when we fall into sin, but he also help us when we are tempted to sin.

Now, just a word about Satan. Because I know that some of you do not believe that Satan is real. Even though Jesus talks about Satan through-out His ministry. The Apostles warn us about Satan throughout their writings. And even though Jesus did battle with Satan both going to, and on the cross.

Is Satan real? You see, I mention this now because I know that as I talk about Jesus encounter with Satan – some of you will just tune me out. Don’t tell me that Sean believes in the Devil and Satan! I mean, isn’t that a little medieval? We are educated today. We’ve evolved beyond those superstitions.

There are lots of people who will tell you that when the Bible talks about demon possession – what they are really talking about is mental illness. They called it demon possession in the ancient world because they didn’t understand mental illness.

Is Satan real? Satan is the father of lies. He is cunning, crafty and sly. If you don’t believe that Satan is real, Satan get’s his way. He tells us that we are smart and educated and evolved, that we don’t have to believe that he is real.

Jesus goes out into the desert and faces Satan. He does battle with him.

Now, Luke highlights three temptations that Jesus faces. He hasn’t been eating. He’s hungry. And Satan comes along and say’s: If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.

Now could Jesus turn the stone into bread. Absolutely. If he can turn water into wine, he could turn stone into bread. But the temptation here is to obey Satan. Let’s face it many of the temptations we face in life are some kind of physical desire or urge. Bodily appetites and pleasures, whether they be food or drink, intimacy. Jesus responds: One does not live by bread alone. Healthy living is more than just eating and drinking and enjoying life. To be really healthy, we also need to feed ourselves spiritually.

But notice how Satan address Jesus. Back in chapter three when Jesus is baptized, a voice out of heaven declares to everyone: This is my Son in whom I am well pleased. What does Satan say to Jesus: He say’s: If you are the Son of God. He urges Jesus to doubt who he really is. He urges Jesus to second guess and to think again: If you are the Son of God.

I mean, I kept coming back to that and isn’t that what Satan wants us to do: he wants us to doubt our identity. He wants us to second guess the fact that we are children of the Living God. He wants us to doubt our relationship with Christ.
• He wants us to doubt that we are forgiven.
• He wants us to question our identity: that we are Christians.
Never doubt your identity in Christ.
Never doubt the fact that you are a child of God.
• That you have been forgiven your sins.
• That your home really is heaven.

Those are things that Satan wants us to doubt. He wants us to forget who we are. That are not strong enough. That we are not good enough to resist him.

Again the devil comes at Jesus. To you, Satan say’s to Jesus, I will give you the kingdoms of this world. I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, will worship me, it will all be yours. (Luke 4:5-6)

Satan promises glory and prosperity to Jesus. Today, there are preachers who preach the Gospel of prosperity – and it is a false Gospel. Perhaps the best known for preaching this Gospel of prosperity is Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, but there are all kinds of hem today. The Gospels, the New Testament does not preach prosperity and riches and possessions. If anything, it teaches that the rich will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus himself was not a rich man. He did not own a home. His money went to a communal pot to do ministry. Jesus was not a rich man and did not preach that if we follow him we will be blessed financially.

Satan comes and he tempts Jesus with all the kingdoms of the world. You can have all of these kingdoms if you worship me. Come on Jesus. You are the King. Let me give you all these kingdoms. You want to rule and have authority over the kingdoms of this world? You don’t have to go through the pain, the sufferings, beatings, being denied by your own followers. You don’t have to die on the cross. I will give you the kingdoms of the world now. Just worship me. So cunning and crafty the devil is. Jesus has only started his ministry. There is a long, long road ahead. He weak. He tired. Just worship me.

Jesus responds: It is written, Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him. I will not worship you Satan. Jesus maintains his focus on God while being tempted – which is for us as well. That we should also keep our focus on God and we will be less likely to fall into sin.

The other thing I want to highlight is that Jesus quotes Scripture. He finds strength in the Word. Jesus quotes passages from Deuteronomy. One does not live by bread alone. Deuteronomy 8:3, Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him. Deuteronomy 6:13.

Some of you will give something up for lent when what you should be doing is picking something up. God’s Word, and reading it. We provide a reading plan in the bulletin. There are reading plans all over the internet. In fact, I have put a link on the website for you to read the Bible online. If you don’t like to read, do you know that you can buy the Bible on CD and MP3. Someone will read it to you?

Do you know that there are people who literally risk their lives to have a copy of God’s Word in their possession? The Word is precious. Paul speaks of it as a double edge sword. It will protect you from the schemes of the devil. But you have to read it. You have to know it. If this is the only time you read the word, or hear the word – it’s not enough.

Do you know that Satan knows the Scriptures. He uses them to manipulate.

Notice the next temptation that Luke shares. Satan takes Jesus to Jerusalem. They go to the pinnacle of the temple. And Satan say’s to him: If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here. If you are the Son of God. Notice again, Satan tries to get Jesus to doubt who He is. If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. And then Satan gets all religious and starts quoting the Scriptures himself. From Psalm 91: For He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.

Satan’s ultimate plan is to see Jesus dead. If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. You know that God will command his angels to save you. And if not – my work is done.

But Satan has twisted the Scripture of Psalm 91. Again, Jesus responds with a Scripture from Deuteronomy. Do not put the Lord your God to the test. Psalm 91, the point is not to test God and make God prove his love but rather, the point of Psalm 91 is someone who is engaged is a relationship loving God, God will be with us in our time of need.

At the end of the text, Luke tells us that when the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. It’s not that Satan left for good. He shows us other times throughout Jesus ministry.

Forty days Jesus is out in the wilderness. Out in the desert land fasting, and being tempted by the devil.

What will we do with the 40 days before Easter.
• Will we give up chocolate or carbs like a 40 day diet?
• Or alcohol.
• Or sweets.
• Or maybe social media.

Instead, may I suggest, instead of giving something up, perhaps adding something or making something a greater priority.
• Reading the Scriptures
• Prayer
• Perhaps you will fast (only if you are able).
The point is to prepare for Easter. To prepare for the glorious resurrection of our Lord.

If you give up anything, may we give up sinning.

A-men

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