This is the sermon for Sunday, May 8th, 2011.

Matthew part 7

Tempted.

 

Matthew 4:1-11 NIV –  1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”  7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do 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 splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Introduction

 Last time we looked at Jesus baptism.    We saw that His baptism was a beautiful picture of humility; It was the public beginning of Christ’s ministry; and it had two purposes: to prepare Israel for their Messiah, and to prepare the Messiah for Israel.

There are three important truths to look at as we have been covering the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Matthew: (1) Jesus’ genealogy proves his legal human qualification as Israel’s King; his virgin birth proves his Divine qualification as Israel’s Messiah.  (2) His baptism was the occasion of His Divine approval. (3) His temptation will demonstrate His moral fitness to reign.

At the 2009 Kansas High School state track championship, an unusual thing happened.  The team that won the girls 3,200 meter relay was disqualified.  But what happened next was even more unusual.  The team that was awarded the state championship by default turned right around and gave their medals to the team that had been disqualified.  The first school, St. Mary’s Colgan, lost first place because judges ruled that a runner had stepped out of their lane as she handed off the baton.  That meant that the second place team, Maranatha Academy, moved up to first.  After receiving their medals, the girls from Maranatha saw the downtrodden looks on the faces of the St. Mary’s girls, so they gave them their individual medals.  Why did they do this?  As Maranatha’s coach Bernie Zarda put it: “Our theme for the year was to run not for our glory, but for God’s glory.”  As a result of the girl’s action, their story was told throughout Kansas, and God’s name was lifted up.

I’m sure these girls were tempted to keep the medals; after all, they won them fairly, even on a disqualification.  But they chose to honor God rather than receiving man’s honor.

Here in this story in the Gospel of Matthew, we see Jesus being tempted as well.  These temptations are not exactly easy to say no to for Him, after all, they cut to the heart of some needs that Jesus has at the time, both physical and spiritual.  Let’s begin unpacking our text.

Spirit-led temptation.

Matthew 4:1-2 – 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

 Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into this temptation.

This is a fascinating truth to me, and one which we often ignore or even deny in our day.

Here is Jesus, who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit born of the virgin, and then His ministry was ordained by the Holy Spirit at His baptism; now this same Spirit is leading Him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Why is this?  Well, throughout the biblical texts of the Old Testament and New Testament God delivers a promise, and begins equipping those whom He has promised, and then leads them into a time of wilderness temptation.

Some scholars feel that Jesus temptation in the wilderness is showing that He is the true Israel of God, while they were tempted in the wilderness for forty years and failed God so that He had to raise up a new generation, Jesus would be tempted for forty days and succeed.

There is an important principle here: if we try to overcome our wilderness temptations in our own righteousness and power, we are going to fail miserably.  But if we cling to the cross of Christ, and trust that the Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now dwells in us not only to sustain us, but also too strengthen us; we are going to see God glorified during the wilderness temptations of our lives.

Jesus temptation in the wilderness didn’t begin immediately, but began at the moment when he was very weak physically.

Notice the text says, after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”

Our temptations often occur during times of weakness, not strength.

Let’s now look at the temptations.

First temptation – hunger.

Matthew 4:3-4 – 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

 The first temptation hit his main physical problem – hunger.

Now the “if” in “if you are the Son of God,” is an incorrect translation.  This sentence in verse 3 is in Greek grammar called a FIRST CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCE.; which basically means an assumption of truth.  In other words, Satan was really saying, “since you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

So at this point in the temptation, Satan is not questioning whether Jesus was the Son of God or not, but he was trying to entice Him to use his authority as the Son of God to provide for His need, instead of relying on the strength that comes from the Holy Spirit to sustain Him.

We could look at it another way I suppose.  Satan was trying to state that since Jesus was the Son of God, He shouldn’t have to suffer.

There is an important truth here we need to realize:  Sometimes as believers, not only do we suffer, but it is God’s will that we suffer.  I know that many in Christian media will say otherwise, but Scripturally, every person who followed God in the Scriptures, including our Savior Jesus Christ Himself, endured suffering.

Notice what Paul says in Philippians.

Philippians 1:29 – For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…

 Jesus answer to the temptation was not to give in, but to stand on God’s Word.

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

It is interesting that Jesus could have used His authority to command Satan to flee at this time, but instead He chose to resist his temptation by standing on God’s Word.

It is so easy to want to rebuke the enemy when tempted, when sometimes it is God’s will for us to stand in the strength that is found in His Word and resist Him through that Word.

Second temptation – power.

Matthew 4:5-7 – 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”  7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

 The second temptation took place in the heights of the temple in Jerusalem – the holiest place in all the earth.

Here Satan is using another need that Jesus has – power or authority.  Satan is saying, “since You are the Son of God, show Your power by saving your life.”

Satan here changes his mode of tempting by using the Scriptures wrongfully – out of context.  He is quoting Psalm 91:11-12.  That Psalm is talking about trusting God; Satan changed the context into testing God.

Again, Jesus stands on God’s Word to resist the temptation.

He quotes, Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Deuteronomy 6:16)

Jesus is showing us what J.W. Shephard has described, “Testing is not trusting.”

How often do we do something similar.  We may say something like, “God if you will deliver me out of such and such situation, I will trust you with my whole life.”  When as believers in Jesus, we trust, not testing God in any way.

 So when you are in your wilderness temptation time, continue to trust that the same Christ who saved you through His sacrifice will be the same Christ who will sustain you by His Holy Spirit.

Third temptation – worship.

Matthew 4:8-10 – 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

 There are two things revealed in this third temptation: (1) Satan was tempting to have Jesus worship Him; (2) and Jesus was tempted with all the Kingdoms of this world being giving to Him for the sake of worship.

This temptation was the most repugnant to Jesus, notice verse 10.

 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

If Satan could get the Son of God to worship him, this would be the greatest of victories.

It is here that Jesus has enough and says, “Away from me!”

Comforted after temptation.

Matthew 4:11 – Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

 After Satan leaves, the Lord is comforted.

Conclusion

What can we learn from this passage this morning?

  • The Same Spirit that fills us at Salvation will sometimes lead us into our own wilderness temptation for our time of testing.
  • It is during our weakest moments when the temptation can be the fiercest.
  • During our testing time, stand on God’s Word.
  • If you fail, turn to Christ, repent, and receive His forgiveness, and then stand on the strength and comfort of His Word.
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