Summary: Jesus shows us ways we can be successful in resisting temptation.
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
First Sunday of Lent
March 9, 2003
“Do Not Enter: Resisting Temptation”
INTRODUCTION: How many have seen a “Do Not Enter” sign on the highway or somewhere in town? How many of you have deliberately driven into such an area anyway? How many wouldn’t think of doing such a thing? I confess that I have.
STORY: Walter always took our 90 year old friend, Kreager, to the bank when his check came. On that particular day, Walter was out of town and couldn’t take him. I picked him up and took him down to Citizen’s National bank as it was then called. When we got there, it was more convenient for me to enter in at the “Do Not Enter Sign” than to go around and enter the other way. So I deliberately drove in at the “Do Not Enter.” Then I quickly said to Kreager who was 50 years older than I was, “Don’t tell Walter I did this.” He said, “Oh, no, no. I won’t” Then he said, “Walter takes chances too!”
Why do we deliberately enter where there are signs that plainly say, “Do not Enter?” Is it because we think, “Oh, what is it going to hurt?” “Oh, it doesn’t really mean anything? No one is coming.” “I’ve done it before and nothing happened.”
Is it just because we “have it in us” to do the opposite of what we are supposed to do?
The title of today’s message is “Do Not Enter: Resisting Temptation.” Maybe we would not think of ever driving into a “Do Not Enter” road sign, but what about entering temptations and sins that so easily beset us? In Matthew’s account of today’s scripture, Jesus takes all of his disciples except Judas to the Garden of Gethsamane to pray late at night. He is starting to feel the pressure of the sins of the whole world pressing in on him, he is in conflict over the upcoming mission, and he asks his disciples to watch and pray with him. Jesus tells his disciples, “Watch and pray that you will not enter into temptation.” This scripture shows us that even when we want to avoid temptations that sometimes they are just there in front of us and that we succumb to them.
Let’s see how today’s scripture will help us to be better able to resist the various temptations that come our way.
1. The Agony Jesus Was In: Jesus knew he was on a mission--to the cross. That is why he came to earth in the first place. But as he got nearer and nearer to the cross he was in great conflict within himself. He was struggling with his human nature. He was fully God but also fully human. That may be difficult for us to understand. There were several things happening here that I hadn’t seen before.
When you do something wrong, how does it make you feel? Guilty, sad, depressed, separated from God’s favor, dirty? You might have a lot of different feelings that you can’t shake off. At this particular time Jesus was starting to feel the weight of the sins of the world on him. They were crushing him. They were pressing in on him. He had both emotional pain as well as the thought of future physical pain of the cross.
He also realized that he would go through this alone. He didn’t even have his closest disciples watching and praying with him. He didn’t really have his “support team” with him. They were all asleep.
He also knew that he would have the separation from the presence of God when he was on the cross. Matthew 27:45 says that he cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.”
And then during the triumphal entry where the crowds of people waved palm branches and shouted “Hosannah,” the people started to turn against him very quickly.
He was alone in his struggles. The conflict raged within him and he prayed, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will.” The Message Bible puts it this way, “My father if there is any way, get me out of this, But please, not what I want. You, what do you want.”
He could have gotten out of it. He could have said, “I have had enough. I am stopping at this point. The temptation was there to back out. He prayed the second time. In the Mark account it says, “if possible, the hour may pass from him.” Then he said “everything IS possible for you. Take this cup from me, yet not what I will but what you will.”
2. The Requests and the Overriding Desire to Do the Father’s Will: He prayed the second time, “My father if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.” Each time he prayed, he came out with more strength to go ahead with the mission. And to do the father’s will.