March 10, 2019
Pastor John Hering
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Lent is supposed to be a time of the Christian Church year when Christians get serious about sin. And it doesn’t take much for us to see why we need to take sin seriously. According to ROTW.com (Revival Outside the Walls)
- One-half of all Americans have never read the Bible.
- 59% of Millennials believe that pornography is acceptable.
- 70% of church attenders don’t share their faith with anyone else.
Yes, it’s time to get serious about sin! AND we don’t have to look out there for the proof because we who read the Bible learn the reality that every thought, word, and action that fails to meet God’s standards is a sin. The Bible also teaches us that the person who sins is going to spend eternity in hell because God still demands that a person must be perfect to enter into heaven. Yes, perfect! I know your sin is different from my sin whether it’s laziness toward worship, stinginess toward kingdom work, fear when scared or failing when tempted. So, Lent is a time for us to get serious about sin.
The life we have is NOT the way God planned it. Sin was a surprise. What God planned was a perfect world where he would live with perfect people. Then the unthinkable happened. One of God’s perfect creatures rebelled and was thrown out of heaven fast enough, but he vowed revenge. He came to earth and got his chance soon enough. Not with a demonic army, a natural disaster, but with a deal Adam and Eve couldn’t pass refuse. They ate and Satan cackled….. and so the batter for souls began. God on one side and Satan on the other. Satan seemed to have God in a corner—if God overlooked sin, he would have to deny his majesty. If God recognized sin, he would have to punish his people. And Satan cackled….
Until God crackled the leaves under his feet as he walked into the Garden of Eden. He acknowledged that Adam was sinful, Eve was sinful, and Satan was the successful tempter who appeared to have God in a corner. Until God announced the Savior, both God and man, who would not sin. God would then place his eternal wrath of hell deserved by his people onto his Son when hanging on the cross. At the same time, God would then place the holiness earned by his Son onto his people and declare them not guilty of their sins. The Savior would satisfy God’s majesty, and at the same time save God’s people. It was the perfect plan—and plan Satan had to break because he knew his time was short!
And so here we are on the 1st Sunday of Lent in Luke 4 to learn from this important account the tactics of Satan verses Jesus.
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”
Maybe Jesus’ clothes were still wet from his baptism, the Father’s voice still echoing in his ears when the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert. There he met Satan head on. Will you think with me just a moment? Satan knows Jesus is a real person. Satan also knows how easy it has been to tempt people to sin. He got Adam to doubt God’s love, got Noah to get drunk, Abraham to fear for his life so called Sarah his sister and not his wife, got David to lust and murder, got God’s chosen people to worship stones, trees and sod rather than the One and Only true God. Did Satan think, “So, how hard could it be to get Jesus to fall?” And he began his devilish work with Jesus in the desert
“2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.”
I know we’ll talk about the big three temptations, but there are many more! And if any one of these temptations, whether big or small, would have ruined God’s plan. It all seemed so easy. And it would have been,
If You Or I Were The Savior!
If You or I were The Savior how would it have turned out? Who of you would like to have the entire destiny of the people of all time resting on the outcome? What if God had asked you to be that Savior, how would it have gone? If you were tempted by Satan the way Jesus was tempted by Satan, who of you would have succeeded? I dare say, “No one!”
“3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
This temptation was about being hungry and so much more! This is Jesus! Satan may have suggested, “Someone like you, Jesus, shouldn’t have endure this! You made the whole world, yes, you have the whole universe at your fingertips. If you have the power to calm the wind, cure the sick and feet the thousands, certainly you shouldn’t be starving right now! Who’s putting you through all of this? Was it your Father at your baptism who so proudly said, “This is my Son!” and now he’s letting you go through this! What kind of a loving Father would do such a thing? You deserve better than this. You’re hungry. Trust your human instincts! Make some dog gone bread for yourself!”
If You Or I Were The Savior! I don’t see anything good happening here. Why? Because Satan comes at us all the time to send the chills of doubt down our spine. “You’re God’s child? So, he knew you before you were born. He knows how many hairs are on your head. He knows the troubles you’re having and how hard you’ve worked. You deserve a few nicer things than those neighbors who have never read the Bible, watch porn all the time, or if they say they’re Christians they sure don’t show it by how the revere worshiping God—what maybe Christmas and Easter? Shoot! Did he really call you his own child in your baptism? What kind of a loving God would let you go through this sort of thing. You deserve better than this! How about we pout a little, and everybody needs a night on the town to unwind. And you know everyone has sexual urges—don’t do anything drastic or they’ll kick out of church—just turn one little stone into bread and be happy for once. Go on! Just do it!
Good thing you and I aren’t the Savior. Good thing Jesus saw this temptation for what it was. It wasn’t about bread. Satan wanted Jesus to doubt God’s promises. He wanted Jesus to conclude that God can’t be trusted, leaned on, depended upon. What Satan forgot is that God had mapped out Jesus’ plan that included, hunger, pain, thirst, sadness, suffering and death! Turning that stone into a loaf was a denial of God’s goodness. So,
“4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’” Dear Jesus, we’re so glad you are our Savior!
“5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
Sometimes temptations are subtle and hidden inside a slice of bread. Sometimes they are just bold-faced sins. While Satan was using this bold-faced temptation, he was still being dishonest with his temptation. Of course Jesus isn’t going to flat out worship Satan, but maybe there was a shortcut here. God had already promised Jesus to have authority over heaven and earth after he finished his mission, but Satan was offering it to Jesus even if he didn’t suffer and die. Makes sense to me. I can’t imagine looking forward to a cross. We know in the Garden Jesus even asked his Father if there was any other way to save the world! No matter what Jesus was thinking, but what Satan was saying! This is a bold-faced lie! Yes, Satan can tempt people who live in the world, but Satan does not own the world. It wasn’t his to give to anybody. And truth be told, do you know what Satan will end up giving you? Nothing!
If You Or I Were The Savior! Well, we’re pretty smart. We know Satan is a big liar. But, you know what. People like the Big lie! It seems to work anyway. Always has.
“You will be like God knowing good and evil”
was the big lie to Adam and Eve. Well, she sure found out about evil, but she sure didn’t become like God. Satan says, “Go ahead, drink all you want! You’ll have a blast!” until you’re puking on the side of the street with a DWI on your driving record. “Go ahead, you’ll love all those new things” until the audit catches your tax cheating and now you’re sitting across from an IRS agent. “Go ahead, it will feel so good” until the morning after when your spouse answers your cell phone and throws it at you! Satan offers the glory of everything, and the big lie is that he gives you nothing. Satan makes lots of promises, but he keeps only one. He is a big liar that wants you to spend eternity with him in hell.
Good thing you and I aren’t the Savior. Good thing Jesus saw this temptation for what it was. It wasn’t just about bowing down and gaining the world. Satan wanted Jesus to take the easy way out and fail at saving us. However, when Jesus encountered the Big Lie,
“8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
Dear Jesus, we’re so happy you are our Savior!
“9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Do you see how good Satan is at tempting? For this last one he comes with the Bible in his hand. Yes, it’s been said that Satan knows God’s Word better than we do—especially since over half of all Americans don’t bother reading the Bible. Not so hard to imagine. Satan quotes the Bible, “You say, ‘Trust God,’ Jesus. Well, it says right here in Psalm 91 that God will protect you. So jump!”
If You Or I Were The Savior! Satan would come after us with God’s Word. Well, kinda. “Doesn’t God’s Word say we’re supposed to love one another? Then what kind of love are you showing if you call someone a false teacher? How can you deny communion to someone at the Lord’s Supper if you’re supposed to be loving? How can you condemn LGBTQ lifestyles if God wants you to love one another? Can you see the game Satan is playing? He uses one Bible truth in our heads to block out the other Bible truths. Like this, “God wants men to be the leaders in their family” so men become tyrants in their homes. “God wants us to be a good steward of our blessings and plan for the future” so I think I’ll skimp on my offerings to church. “God punishes people for their sins” so people live in guilt and doubt God’s forgiveness. God did not give us a “Cafeteria Bible” for us to pick and choose only those passages that we like, and avoid those we don’t. No, God wants us to listen to the whole counsel of God from all of holy Scriptures.
Good thing you and I aren’t the Savior! Good thing Jesus saw it for what it was. Jesus knew this game of Satan and he wasn’t going to play it. He would not set God against God. He would not listen to one Bible truth and ignore another. He would not put his trust in a false god Satan invented, because only God is God.
“12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
If You Or I Were The Savior! We would be in a big mess. But, we weren’t the Savior. Jesus was and is. Jesus did not lose the battle, but was even more determined to continue on his journey to the cross. Jesus was even more serious about sin, the sin we have and the penalty we deserve to pay, that he paid for us. Satan knew what was at stake,
“13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.”
and fought against Satan every step along his journey to the cross. Satan would attack again and again, but Jesus never flinched. He was tempted in every way we are tempted, but never thoughts about sinning, never considered sinning, and never gave in to sinning. Therefore Jesus, is the perfect Savior we need! He is also the perfect our world needs.
Yes, when ½ of all Americans no longer read the Bible, Jesus was never late for worship and always eager to hear God’s Word proclaimed. When over ½ of Americans have disregard for God’s blessings of marriage, Jesus always defended Marriage the way his Father in heaven instituted it between one man and one woman for life. When 70% of Christians no longer share their faith, and 2/3s of all churches are declining, Jesus was all too eager to proclaim his trust in the Father’s plan to save the world from their sin. And then through faith in him, that we gain the identity of God’s own dear people and heirs of eternal life in heaven.
I think we’d all agree—it’s time to get serious about sin—that Jesus died for save us all from the curse of sin, and now we get to live what Jesus has made us. Now is the time for us to repent for the times we doubted God’s promises and denied God’s goodness. For the time we listened to Satan’s lie and took the easy way out. For the time we listened to one Bible truth and ignored all the others. Now is the time to trust in Jesus, who is the Savior who was tempted, and passed every test….. for you! Amen!