My Pastor recently completed a sermon series on temptation in the context of living in today’s world. After some study I found that these verses in Luke Four are helpful in understanding what one commentator described as “ the most sacred of stories, for it can have come from no other source than Jesus’ own lips.” (William Barclay, DBS) From a secular view we acknowledge that a great leader must select the method by which he / she will lead. We know from the opening verses that Jesus has chosen the way of suffering, rejecting the way of power and glory. We know that temptation did not come through earthy failings and the tempter was none other than the Devil himself. One of the odd facts here is that the temptations described are only a test for a person who would have the powers and ability to be tempted by them. An ordinary person would know they could not and there would be no need to even be tempted by that which they had no ability to do. Jesus had the power to do such and chose not to.
It’s almost like a play being played out on the largest stage available…God’s creation of earth… The scene being set in the wilderness, on the central plateau, the backbone of southern Palestine. Between it and the Dead Sea stretched a terrible wilderness, thirty-five by fifteen miles consisting of hills of dust heaps and limestone which appeared to be blistered and peeling Everywhere the rocks were bare and jagged, terrible heat and then large cliffs that were 1200 feet high which dropped straight down to the Red Sea. Here among this terrible devastation Jesus was tempted. This was a terrible place that Jesus deliberately went to and for forty days wrestled with how he would go about his father’s work. It would be a long hard task and would not end till the cross. The first temptation was to turn stones into bread
Throughout the rough ground lie little bits of limestone that looked just like loaves of bread.
3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
The devil put Jesus high up on a mountain from which all the world could be seen. The devil told Jesus that through evil he had the minds of the people… strike a deal with me now and compromise a little and they will follow you…all this could be yours.” Jesus as always, even in his ministry to come answered with scripture.
6:13 Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name
10:20 Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.
Jesus would not worship the devil for he knew there could be no compromise when fighting evil. People are constantly being won over by compromising with the standards of the world. The temptation to compromise has led many to sin.
Now the third and final temptation from the fourth chapter of Luke …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;
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.
Now let’s revisit these temptations. The devil knew the powers of Jesus and he suggested that he use those to provide material things as a bribe to get people to follow him.There is in our society today the attitude of “what’s in it for me”. The sad fact is that many of us have allowed the accumulation of stuff to influence many of our life decisions, marginalizing our relationship with God.
Secondly the art the compromise, or bargaining with the devil…Compromising by lowering our standards to be in line with the worlds and societies acceptance of the many cultural changes that challenge our ability to live a Godly life.
The devil is a persistent adversary…thus the third temptation put before Jesus. The devil took Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple from where there was a drop of some 450 feet. We know of times even among his disciples in the early ministry a need for some sort of sign, something sensational…in a layman’s term , a real confirmation for them and the people; a sensational moment. Jesus refused once again turning to scripture. How often do we see or may even have experienced what we thought to be a need for more. How often have we turned to programs, real attention getters to bring people into the church? Jesus knew that sensationalism would never last. Latter in his ministry he would reveal who he was by telling the woman at the well that he had the “living water” drink of it and you will never thirst again. Jesus knew that God was all they would ever need and through his Son Jesus Christ they would have just that.
Our service to Christ might lead to the cross but then the crown.
Life is Good