Friday, March 2, 2012

Thoughts on Luke 4:1-13 (Temptation of Jesus)

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 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.

Notice that Jesus followed the Spirit where it led him.  In this case, it took him into the wilderness.  The Scripture says that he was tempted for forty days by the devil.  During that time, we are told he ate nothing.  I'm so amazed at all of this.  How many people do you know that follow the Spirit where it leads them.  Are you willing to follow the Spirit where it leads you?  Do you know what kind of faith and courage it takes to go where the Spirit says to go?  That's admirable to me.  Jesus was tempted.  Temptation is not sin, but if you respond the wrong the way to temptation, that could be sin.  Jesus was tempted by the devil.  If the devil can tempt Jesus, why in the world do we, as Christ followers, think that we will be immune to temptation?  News flash: if Jesus can be tempted, we surely can be tempted.  How did Jesus go forty days without eating?  That has to be a God-thing.  The Spirit empowered Jesus to fast for forty days and completely rely on God for provision.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

Now, Luke doesn't say when the devil came to test Jesus.  I would assume that the devil tempted Jesus when he was most vulnerable, because that's usually when the devil tempts me. Now, by definition, a temptation means that it is something that you have to think (sometimes think really hard) about before you say no.  What the devil suggests is tempting because Jesus was hungry.  He is the Son of God, so he could transform the stones into bread and eat.  Instead, he recalls the Word of God and rejects Satan.

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 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. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”  Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

Imagine this now.  Jesus was tempted by this.  If Jesus had all authority over the world and all the splendor in the world, imagine what he could do.  He could end world hunger.  He could end poverty and disease.  He could remake the world just as it was supposed to be.  The problem with this is free will.  In forcing the world into a certain mold, you would rob creation of its choice to do the right thing or not.  Besides, the cost was too high.  Jesus is the Son of God and will only worship and serve Him.  He cannot serve or worship Satan.  Nothing is worth that price.

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. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Jesus had to be tempted.  Wouldn't it be nice to just prove to the people that you are who you say you are?  They wouldn't have to believe without seeing because they would all see it and believe.  There would be no need for faith.  Besides, the people of Israel have seen the Hand of God throughout all their history and, time and time again, they have turned from Him.  If they saw one more sign, it would not be any more significant.  Still, it must have been tempting, but Jesus values God more than himself.  Then Satan flees.

A pastor friend once told me that the root of every temptation is selfishness.  Do you see that?  If Jesus was hungry, he could make food.  If he wanted authority and splendor, he had to bow down.  If he wanted to prove himself to be the Son of God, he had to jump.  All those things benefit only himself.  Wow.  Consider what tempts you.  Ask yourself if giving in to that temptation is an act of selfishness.  I'd be willing to bet that  it is.

Any time that you are tempted, remember that Jesus was tempted too.  It's okay to be tempted.  Jesus has promised us that we will never be tempted beyond what we can resist.  Jesus has promised that any time we face temptation, he gives us a way out.  Temptation is not a sin.  How you respond to the temptation could be sin.  Now, this doesn't mean you go out looking for temptation.  That's just playing with fire!  Avoid temptation if you can.  Run from temptation if it comes your way.  Call on the strength of the Lord who has already beaten it for you.

Take the Victory that we have in Jesus Christ!

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