Summary: In this sermon the 3 temptations of Christ Jesus and His response to them are compared to ways in which we are tempted today.
If - Luke 4: 1 - 13
Intro: Martha needed a new dress to wear to church on Easter Sunday. She and Craig, her husband, went to the mall and as Martha was looking over the selection of dresses, Craig happened to notice a beautiful, shapely, young lady as she walked by in a rather snug fitting, short red dress. Without looking up from the dress she was examining Martha said, “If you knew how much trouble you were in, you would be getting out your wallet to pay for this expensive dress I’m going to buy.” --- IF! We’ve all been in those “IF” circumstances: IF I had known . . ., IF I had gone . . ., IF I were rich . . . Life seems to be full of IF’s.
I. Verses 1 – 3 reveal an “IF” situation for Jesus. He is weak and hungry from fasting.
A. Just at the point when his stomach is growling from hunger and food is what he needs most, Satan arrives: “IF you are the Son of God, turn this stone into bread. Feed yourself first. You can’t minister & meet people’s needs if you are weak from hunger. Take the easy way, feed yourself first. Don’t wait for God to fulfill His promises. You’ve got to take care of yourself. Go ahead, take the shortcut, take the easy way. What will it hurt?”
B. That’s often the way Satan tempts us to deal with the stewardship not only of our money but also our time and talent when it comes to God’s call to us. Take care of yourself first; give the leftovers to God. God will understand. You’re a busy person. Someone else will do it. Just put a few extra dollars in the plate and they can pay someone else to do it.
C. Jesus answers with Deut. 8:3 which tells Satan, “Feeding on God’s word to satisfy a spiritual hunger is more important than my physical needs.” --- When we are confronted by the temptation to put ourselves first, we must realize that everyone must recognize their dependence on God’s word and will. Woodrow Wilson is quoted as saying, “No one has ever risen to the real stature of spiritual adulthood until they have found that it is finer to serve somebody else than it is to serve themselves.”
II. Verses 5 – 7 another “IF” – Jesus has spent 40 days fasting and praying for God to direct him and his ministry. Now Jesus knows he is to win the whole world for God.
A. Satan says, “Look at what you can have if you just do things my way. God’s way will take too long and cost you too much. My way will be much easier. Take this shortcut to having the world at your feet. You’ll accomplish the same thing only faster. The end justifies the means. Don’t work for it; let me give it to you. Don’t set your standards so high. Strike a bargain with me and people will follow you.”
B. We are faced with that type of temptation daily. I am willing to be that every person in this room has one. It’s small, fits easily in your pocket; but, has the power to give you whatever you want. (Pull out a credit card.) Just use it! Buy it now! Have it now! Don’t wait. Buy not and pay later! And one day you awaken to find you owe thousands of dollars and have little hope of paying. It is a great temptation to take the easy way, have it now.
C. Jesus answers with Deut. 6:13 “Worship the Lord your God and worship only Him.” There is no compromise possible. Either you follow God’s plan and teachings or you don’t. You can’t be a part-time Christian.
III. Verse 9 – 11 another “IF” – In his wilderness experience, God has promised Jesus that even in the difficult, trying places in his future, God will be there to protect and sustain Jesus.
A. Satan uses God’s own words (Psalm 91: 11 – 12) to try to convince Jesus to misuse his power and authority. “Let’s do a little experiment here, Jesus. Let’s test God’s promises to you. If you do this one thing, people will be impressed. You can gain many followers and draw attention to yourself by doing this sensational demonstration of power. Besides, you will be certain that what God has told you is true.”
B. How often have we tried to test God? “Lord, if you love me, you will . . . “ “God, you know my limitations. Surely you don’t expect me to . . .” We pray for selfish miracles and expect God to do our will rather than His.
C. Jesus answers with Deut. 6:16 Demanding miraculous protection as proof of God’s love and care is wrong. Our attitude toward God is to be one of trust and obedience. We cannot treat God as though he is our dog and we can snap our fingers and whistle and God will roll over, bark and wag his tail because He’s glad to see us. We cannot force God to act on our behalf; nor can we blame God when suffering occurs. We are to follow God’s leading and answer God’s call.