4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him
Jesus tempted. His temptations were not temptations foreign to man. Not one of us is ever tempted beyond what is common to man. Our temptations are perennially the same. We like to think they are exceptional especially when we succumb to them. But they are not. We succumb to them purely out of human weakness, because we are sinners, and we really can’t help ourselves. There isn’t a one of us in this room who has not fallen prey to these temptations in one way or another.
It seems rather extreme to us. Jesus having fasted forty days, won’t make bread for himself. He will do it for others when they have been hungry less than a day, even before they realize their hunger, setting five thousand down in a field. But for himself nothing, and it seems merely because the tempter was the one who suggested it. He knows there is other bread by which he lives. It isn’t as if he has been asked to steal bread. Just make it, and not at the expense of others. Somehow I see here just how different man is in a sin free state, utterly unconcerned for himself, preoccupied with concern for others. And in that we fail.
Testing God. This is one we understand. Pagan religion is based on it, and most often we approach the Christian religion with our pagan biases. What good is believing in God if you can’t get him to do what you want him to do. We don’t pray thy will be done even when we recite the words of Jesus. Most often we are utter unconcerned with what God’s will might be, unless, we think it might go bad for us if we somehow break with God’s will for our life in who we ought to marry, or what job we ought to take. But then we approach it again in purely selfish motif, some sort of Christian feng shui, if we align our lives with God’s will then good things will happen. Never mind him telling us this world will give you tribulation, or the results of Jesus own life. The cross that came at the very end because he refused to give into the temptations of the devil. Jesus would rather choose death and earthly tribulation than give into temptation.
Oh, this is what is behind all of these temptations, the avoidance of the cross. Look Jesus, if you want to be the messiah, I’ll just give you these kingdoms, but bow down and worship me. And that is behind it all. With every sin we commit, we show our true allegiance, the true allegiance of our Old Adam, the sinful man we daily drown in repentance, prayer and devotion strengthing our faith and the new life given to us. But our sin, shows we do not fear love and trust in God about all things. That there are things we fear more, love more, and trust in more than God, base things like porn, drugs, and drunkenness, and noble things like sports, family, and country all a stumbling block. Oh we are much more inclined to trust in men than we are to take refuge in God. We can spend hours watching the news and fretting about politics, and the idea of spending ten minutes in the study of God’s word sends us shaking our heads, five minutes in prayer? You have to be kidding. But I tell you, there is only one place of refuge in this world, one place to find sanity, one place to find what you are looking for, and that is in the worship of God where we sinners receive forgiveness, and rest, a cleansing of our souls from the soot of sin and guilt, a clean conscience, and a good heart. God and God alone should we worship, because finally this world that offers you riches, offers you the good life, it gives you death. But our Lord, our God, refused the good life, the easy way out, he took on the tribulation and death of this world, and rose on the third day victorious that he could give you his kingdom, a truly good life.
Now the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.