Summary: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke
This series is drawn from the story of Jesus as told by Luke, and in it we're looking at the man Christ Jesus. We kicked the series off by studying Jesus' origin story, and we learned that Luke didn't try to hide the shameful circumstances that surrounded Jesus' birth. We learned that Jesus understands what shame feels like. But we also learned that no matter how much you may have failed, how untrue you've been, or how insignificant you feel, Jesus is the shame-lifter.
Now we're continuing our examination of Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. Of course, there's no way we can do Jesus' story justice in four Sunday messages. The best we can hope to do is hit a small sampling of highlights that help us understand Jesus as a man, and that help us in our desire to be more like Jesus.
This message is drawn from Luke 4:1-13, a selection of Scripture that describes what is known as the Temptation of Christ. As we look at how Jesus dealt with temptation, we'll recognize some of the fundamental choices that each one of us must make in our walk with the Lord.
You Will Be Tested
I think it's very important to say right off the bat that if you're going to follow Jesus, you will be tested. A lot of people think that's patently unfair somehow; that testing shouldn't form a part of heaven's curriculum. But you can't be a disciple without testing. After all a disciple is a learner, and all learning will at some point involve a form of testing to see if the requisite knowledge has been acquired. So right away in this message you need to understand that you will be tested.
Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. These temptations seem to have been tests of Jesus' resolve to fulfil his purpose. In them he had to make deliberate choices about what mattered most, about staying on task, and about refusing to seek out spiritual shortcuts.
Rest assured that you, too, will be set up by God to endure times of isolation, loneliness, and barrenness so that your mettle can be tested. In your walk with God, you need to know what's in you. You need to know if you're able to discern what matters most. You need to know if you're able to stick to God's purpose for your life in spite of anything. And you need to know if you've got what it takes to soldier through the rough spots instead of looking for an easier way.
You will be tested.
The First Temptation: Stones into Bread
Jesus had fasted forty days, and the Bible says he was hungry. That must be the understatement of the millennia! I imagine he was ravenous.
You know, there are a lot of myths about fasting. One of them is that you stop being hungry at a certain point. Well, I've never reached that point. Let me tell you that at 21 days you're hungry enough to eat an entire flock of chickens. What tempers the hunger of fasting is your focus...but you're still hungry! And when your focus is gone, look out!
Jesus had fasted forty days, he was hungry, and there would have been nothing at all wrong with him eating. In fact, I'm not entirely sure there would have been anything wrong with him zapping a couple of rocks into something delicious. The fast was over. Forty days were complete. It would have been okay to break the fast. Yet he didn't. He would not eat! He wouldn't perform a miracle to provide himself with sustenance. Instead he tells the devil;
"It is written, man shall not live by bread alone."
Here's something for you to take from this first temptation of Jesus; there are things more important than what feeds your flesh and pleases your human nature. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, sooner or later you have to learn there are things more significant than your pleasure. Now, when I say "pleasure" I'm not referring to sin. There are all kinds of things that are pleasant that are not sinful. Jesus wasn't being tempted with sinÂ¸ he was being tempted with the pleasure of the immediate. As a disciple of Christ, at some point you'll have to choose to forego what's pleasant now because you have a greater purpose in mind.
Can you apply yourself to what strengthens the mind and spirit, or must you seek only what brings immediate satisfaction? That's a question you'll be called upon to answer when you are tempted. You see, you have to know what matters most. And you have to know that when the chips are down you'll make the right choice. That's what testing is supposed to determine.