Jesus is the Son of Man
The Temptation of Jesus
Good Morning! Please grab your Bibles with me and turn to Luke chapter 4! OF course if you do not have a Bible, see me after the service and we will get you a Bible.
Last week we looked at the transition in Luke’s Gospel from the pair of John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth. Luke showed that Joh was fulfilling his ministry and calling by preparing the way for Jesus to come as the Messiah. This culminated in what we saw last week, which was the baptism of Jesus by John and the appearance and approval of Jesus by God the Father and the descending of God the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
Now, we didn’t spend much time on verse 23 last week, which tells us that Jesus was about 30 years of age when he began his ministry. Luke tells us that right after the baptism and we see, especially through the other Gospels, that there was little to no time between the baptism and the events we will look at this morning. They were, quite literally, back to back events.
But Luke is putting an emphasis on the shift from John & Jesus to Jesus only and so he buffers the baptism and the temptation in the wilderness with Jesus genealogy. And so, today, this story really marks, especially for Luke the beginning of Jesus ministry.
Now, we know that the Bible is filled with stories that we are all familiar with, to various levels and degrees. We actually get so used to and familiar with the story that we lose sight of some of the meanings and purposes of the story. Often we will hear the simplest or most shallow teaching on those stories, because they are so widely known. That doesn’t mean that those teachings or perceptions are necessarily wrong, but it does mean that often, the most well know stories in the Bible, the way we know them are often incomplete or partial.
I think todays text is one of those too well-known stories. When we come to them in our Bible reading, we don’t even think too much about them, we just kind of skim over them to get to the deeper and more interesting parts. However, we know that Gods word is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. There is no limit to the depths of scripture that we can mine if we commit to reading it, studying it, being taught by God and being led by the Holy Spirit.
So, this morning we are going to read Luke chapter 4, verses 1 through 13. Ill be reading out of the English Standard Version. I encourage you to grab your Bible, in your preferred translation and follow along as we read Gods Word. Luke 4:1-13, Luke writes, inspired by the Holy Spirit:
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
May God Bless the reading of his Holy Word.
Now we see immediately that Jesus was both filled with the Holy Spirit and he was led by the Holy Spirit. He was on a spiritual high, so to speak. We all have experienced this. Some of us, it might have been right after our baptism, maybe when we were first converted. Some of have various times during our walk with Christ that we just feel extra close to him and extra set in our life with Christ. But we also sometimes have the opposite. We have those times in our life where we are just physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. We are not feeling very holy, not feeling close to God, feeling like we are constantly tripping and messing up.
Satan is going to come and hit Jesus with temptation throughout these forty days in the wilderness through both Jesus spiritual and physical highs and his physical and spiritual lows.
Scripture says that Jesus was tempted throughout the 40 days he was in the wilderness. But going back for a moment, through those 40 days, and in fact, before he went into the wilderness, Jesus was being led by the Holy Spirit. He was specifically and purposely brought by God to the wilderness in order to be tempted and more accurately, to resist the temptations.
This time in the wilderness was planned by God from before the beginning of time. This event had to take place because it was a part of Gods plan. That’s important to remember, that God is in control, that he had this all set out from the beginning.
So, Jesus spends 40 days out in the wilderness. And that 40 days is an important number. This was a parallel to Israel wandering through the wilderness for 40 years after leaving Egypt. And this is a complete fulfillment and reversal of what was broken in the world.
Israel failed time and time again in the wilderness. They failed in their obedience. But Jesus come through and was fully obedient. Jesus was the fulfillment; he was the better Israel.
We see Jesus first, going into the wilderness and was fasting. He was there for a time of prayer and fasting. I like how Ligon Duncan describes and explains fasting, especially in this context. He says:
Fasting is designed to deprive you of the comfort of the very basic necessities
of life in water and in food, so that you will remember (1) that everything that
you have comes from God; (2) so that you will remember that you are utterly
dependent upon God; (3) so that you will remember that God is better than any of
the gifts that He gives — that He’s better than food and water, and He’s the
giver of food and water, and that you’re utterly dependent upon Him for it.
And so, at the end of 40 days Jesus was a bit hungry. The common scientific consensus is that an otherwise healthy man can live up to 60 or so days with no food. Jesus just went 40 days. He was physically weak. He was quite literally starving.
That’s when temptation hits. First thing we need to know, Jesus says of Satan, John 8:44: He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
There is no truth in him, but there is a lot of almost truth. And that’s the key. Temptation works, it tempts, it is so appealing because it offers us what we want, what we crave, but what we know is wrong. It offers us what we want, but offers it in a way that seems ok, that seems acceptable, even discreet, so that no one will know.
See, Satan tempted Jesus with something that he could do. “You’re hungry, you’re the Son of God, you can take care of this situation. Turn this stone into bread. I mean, you ARE the Son of God, aren’t you?”
And the reason that this was a temptation was, in fact, a temptation, was that Jesus really could have turned the stone into bread. Its not a temptation if he couldn’t do it. We see in Johns Gospel that he turns water into wine. He could do this.
This will never, ever be a temptation for us. WE will not be tempted to turn stone into bread. We can’t do that, not even theoretically. So, its not a temptation. But for us, our takeaway is not the literal temptation that Satan puts in front of Jesus, but the type and the purpose of those temptations.
Jesus was hungry. Our bodies need food to live. Food, in and of itself is good. It’s a gift from God. God didn’t need to make food taste good, but God loves us, so he made food how it does. It is something we need to live, but, within the correct context, it is something to enjoy as well.
And the temptation is always to make something that God has given us as a gift, and to make that something that we elevate it and to make it ultimate. Food, sex, comfort, acceptance, whatever else you can think of. These are things that we can be tempted to put above God and put as an ultimate thing, even above God. In Genesis we see Esau putting Food and comfort above everything else and trading his birthright for a bowl of stew.
So, we see Jesus tempted to do for himself what he could do but wasn’t supposed to do. His answer to Satan was to use scripture of course, but he rebuffs Satan and says that we are to depend on God to provide for our needs. We might desire food. We might desire comfort. We might desire pleasure.
And we don’t trust God give us what is best for us. We don’t trust God will give us what we need. Jesus tells us however, Matthew 6:25 & 26:
“Therefore, I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Now, its important, especially as we look at the second temptation, to remember that Satan has real power here in this world. Jesus calls him three times in Johns Gospel, “the ruler of this world.” (John 12:31, 14:30 & 16:11) So when he offers things, he is offering from somewhere.
And his next temptation is simply for Jesus to simply be here and now, what you are already going to be in the future. Satan offers him the kingdoms of this world if he simply bows down to him.
How tempting is that? You already know this is all going to be yours, how about getting it now, without all the pain and the waiting and the stress. Its already yours, you just haven’t taken possession of it! Take it now.
I heard a great line by Voddie Baucham this week. I’ve heard this said in many different ways many times before, but the way he said just struck me. He said: Doing a good thing the wrong way for the wrong reasons (and any reason other than to give God the total glory is a wrong reason) is sin.
That’s what Satan was offering here. A good thing, done the wrong way, for the wrong reasons. Jesus’ response, God alone is in control of our situation and he alone is in control of the timing. And of course, scripture is what Jesus uses to refute Satan and his temptations.
Something to remember, if he brings us through with pain, or if he makes us wait, its because he has something so much better than we can even imagine, We might know that we are going to live eternally in the kingdom of heaven, but the reality is going to be so much grander and so much sweeter than anything that we can imagine. We don’t always understand his will and his timing, but we trust that God does and that he is in control and that he is good, and he will do what’s best.
The third and last temptation, Satan learns just a bit. He uses scripture, wildly out of context of course, and he uses scripture to try to tempt Jesus. He says, IF you really are the Son of God, God won’t let anything happen to you, jump and let God catch you.
That temptation that is so manipulative, so enticing and so unbiblical for Christians today. God wont let anything bad happen to you. You are a child of God. He wants you healthy, wealthy and wise, living your best life now! Just let him know what it is that you want and what would make your life easier and better and pray faithfully enough and God will give it to you.
Jesus response this time is to use scripture again! Don’t put God to the test. Here’s the thing. You and I are not owed anything. Not by the people around us, not by the government and certainly we are not owed anything by God. And God will not give in to technicalities and loopholes, or what we think those are anyway. But they are not technicalities, they are out of context. I forget who said it, but “out of Context means your wrong.”
Satan is trying to use a technicality, he is trying to use scripture, knowing full well it doesn’t mean the way that he is using it. But that idea of putting God in a corner, making him into Santa Claus or a genie in a bottle. God you said this, so If I do this, you have to do that!
Israel thought that because of what God said to Abraham back in Genesis 12, and in other parts of Genesis, that God owed them salvation and blessing, they thought they were “in” because of their birth and genealogy. Jesus spends much of his ministry telling the Jewish religious leaders that they could not be more wrong.
Galatians 3:29, And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
God always fulfills his word. Always. He always keeps his promises. Always. But rarely, if ever is it fulfilled and kept in the way that we expect it to.
We cannot make things happen on our timing. We cannot force history in our timing. The date and the time of all these things we see in scripture, but also, everything we are seeing today has been set and determined by God back way back when, before time was created. The date and time of Jesus return is already determined by God. There is nothing that we can do to change it. There is nothing we can do to speed it up. We trust God and his timing above all else. We trust God and his ways, and the trials and joys that he has us walk through above all else. We trust God to provide for all our earthly needs, above all else.
We end this passage, seeing that Satan was rebuff, and he leaves, at least for a time. He retreated, but in order to regroup and watch for a better time to try again. Jesus was able to resist the temptations thrown out at him. And that should be a great comfort for us.
We will be confronted with temptation. Its going to happen. We have Jesus. We have the Holy Spirit. And we have the sword of the spirit, the Word of God. Jesus has already won the war; we are just trying to win the individual battles.
And Satan is cunning. He looks for the opportune time.
1 Peter 5:8 & 9: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
The ultimate point and question are this. Do you trust God?
Bruce Larson writes: Our Basic sin against God is mistrust. The devil hints that God is withholding something from us and he suggests ways in which we can take care of ourselves and get what is our due.
And he is right. The devil hasn’t changed his tactics since Genesis 3. He adapts them for the times and for us individually, but the tactic is the same. Sowing mistrust of God. As he says to Adam and Eve, Did God really say?
Did he really say that you couldn’t touch the tree?
Did he really say that Jesus is God?
Did he really say that sin causes death?
Did he really say that sin is a big deal?
Did he really say that the Bible is really true?
Did he really say those things? Or is he holding out on you with this book of archaic, prudish, patriarchal, racist, homophobic, culturally out of date stories and letters?
The temptation is already there, bombarding us. But because of Jesus we have hope. Adam, the first man, was tempted with food, was tempted to be like God, was tempted to exceed his authority. HE failed. He gave in to his disobedience. He brought sin and death onto this world. He was in the perfect Garden and was exiled out into the wilderness.
Jesus, the last Adam, redeemed all of that. He won. He obeyed. He brought life and forgiveness. He went out into the wilderness and brought the exiles back in so that we may experience the perfect garden for eternity.
Satan tried to get Jesus to doubt his identity as the Son of God. He tries to get us to doubt our identity as children of God. He encourages us to doubt our forgiveness, our salvation and our eternal destiny. But scripture always assures us of our identity in Christ.
Ill finish us up with Hebrews 4:15 & 16:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.