Summary: This sermon focuses on Jesus’ fasting and temptation in the wilderness.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
"I’m starving!" Have you ever said that phrase or heard someone else say it? Most of the time, the person who says it is far from malnutrition! The human desire to eat, hunger, can at times be very strange and cause people to act very strangely. You’ve all heard the stories of pregnant women waking up in the middle of the night and sending their husbands to get pickles and ice cream. You have probably even heard of the horror stories of people stranded on an island or in the mountains and what they ate in order to survive: bugs, rodents and yes even other humans. I have never experienced hunger that severely, and probably would be safe in betting that most of you haven’t either.
Therefore, what our Savior endured for us in the wilderness is quite amazing. Forty days without food! Imagine how hungry you would be after fasting for forty days. Why did Jesus do it? As we listen to God’s Word this morning, we will learn that he fasted for forty days and faced the temptations of Satan for our sake. As our substitute, Theme: Jesus kept the Law for us! In the process of doing this, I. He defeated Satan our enemy and also II. He submitted to the Father’s will.
Introduction to part one: Scripture says that Jesus came to destroy the devil’s work. As we begin the Lenten season, our text takes us to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Right after the Holy Spirit descended upon him, Jesus was led out to the wilderness to inaugurate his earthly ministry with a mighty victory.
His victory was first that I. He defeated Satan our enemy.
Did Jesus know that it was the devil who came and tempted him? Yes, he did. And Jesus saw through the devil’s lies, when Satan attempted to slander the Father and when Satan attempted to offer Christ the easy way out.
Do you understand what Satan is tempting Jesus to do with the first two temptations? The first temptation attacked the provision of the Father. At first glance, it seems that Satan is only asking Jesus to prove that he is God’s Son by making the stone into bread. But, crafty as always, Satan really was implying that Jesus would have to provide food for himself since the Father wasn’t doing it. The second temptation attacked Jesus’ trust in God’s protection. Satan even uses part of God’s Word to test Jesus the second time. "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.’" Satan quotes Psalm Ninety-one which speaks of God’s protection for his children. But the fiend implies that Jesus should test God out to see if he really means it. But the psalm nowhere implies that one put God to the test. In fact, Satan leaves part of verse 11 out, which gives the perameters in which God promises to protect believers. Psalm 91:11 says, “’He will command his angels concerning you in all your ways.” The word “ways” is a word that means the path of life which God has laid out for you. The word talks about your day to day course of life, actions and undertakings. So, Satan really was misusing God’s Word. It shouldn’t surprise us, and it didn’t surprise Jesus because Satan has been twisting God’s Word from the very beginning. From the time Satan said, "Did God really say, ’You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?", he had been maligning God and trying to use God’s Word against him. He was living up to his name Satan, which means, “the Adversary”.
When neither of the first two temptations worked Satan took one last shot. He attempted to offer Christ the easy way out. We aren’t really sure how much of God’s plan of salvation Satan understood, but he did know that Jesus was there to rescue the world. So his offer to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world comes as no surprise. “All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me." By submitting to Satan, Christ would then be under Satan, the one he came to defeat. Satan wouldn’t have really been giving anything to Jesus!
Did Jesus flinch at any of these temptation? No. Instead, Jesus defeated Satan with God’s Word. He rebuffed each temptation with quotes from Scripture. Jesus didn’t use rationalization. Nor was he silent
He struck down Satan in three mighty blows from Scripture, “It is written: ’Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’"... “It is also written: ’Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’"... "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ’Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’" Even when Satan used Scripture, Christ showed that God’s Word interprets itself!