Summary: This week we examine Jesus as a model of emotionally healthy spirituality. We’ll uncover 3 temptations that keep us from growing and then three challenges to fulfill to combat those temptations.
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Jesus Reveals Our Temptations
October 18, 2009
This week I want to lift up to Jesus as a model of healthy emotional spirituality. Turn to the passage read earlier: Luke 4:1-13.
How many of you exercise regularly? Yeah, every morning the alarm clock rings, I jump at of bed and run around the block six times. Not bad, huh.
Then I kick the block under the bed and go back to sleep.
This passage is about the temptation of Jesus while in the desert fasting for forty days in preparation for the start of his public ministry. Jesus has yet to do anything significant. In fact, Jesus is just a simple man and probably a mediocre Jew as he is thirty something and not yet married. He is not a disciple of a Rabbi. Yet at the age that disciples trained by a Rabbi might start their own ministry and gather their own followers, Jesus is about to begin his.
But he hasn’t done a thing yet. However, because Jesus is secure in who he is, this is not a barrier or in any way a limiting factor.
Jesus goes into the desert to prepare and go through a purity ritual. It is here that Jesus is tempted by the devil. It is in these temptations and the responses of Jesus that we see Jesus as a model of emotionally healthy spirituality.
How many times is Jesus tempted? Three. Each of these three temptations reveal to us something about the emotional makeup and maturity of Jesus.
The Temptations of Jesus
The devil tempts Jesus to prove who he is. “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus is hungry. He has done nothing. He is basically a nobody—a loser. Nobody believed in him. Prove it. Show me and everyone how great you are.
Our world still tempts us this way. What have you done? What have you achieved? What do you do? Worth is based on how well you perform at work, with your friends, at school, in your family, in your church, in any of your relationships.
I am what I do.
Our identity and our worth are derived from what we do. When we don’t perform, we work harder and longer or we get depressed or blame others. Jesus’ self-worth came from God the Father’s inexhaustible love.
Do you base your self-worth on your performance?
The devil took Jesus to see the magnificence and power of the earth. Look at all the stuff people have and how important that is. You don’t have any of that. Look at my power. Look at all the stuff that I have. All these things show who really is important. If you recognize this and worship me, I will give you everything. All this is yours.
But Jesus remembers who he is. He is not impressed with all the power and all the stuff. He knows what is truly most important. And he responds with scripture here and each time to remind the devil of what is truly important.
Our culture is measured by our possessions. Marketers spend 15 billion dollars a year seducing children and teens to believe that they need more. We compare ourselves to others. Our sense of worth is tied to our positions at work.
I am what I have.
Who has the best job? Who has the best education from the best school? The bumper stickers that say, “My child is an honor student at such and such school.” Degrees and awards. Who has the handsomest boyfriend? Who has the latest and best gadgets and toys?
When I first saw this I was a teenager and not really a follower of Jesus. I saw how important people’s cars were. They said how successful or cool they were. Often some of these people had wrecks for lives. Lame jobs. Hole in the wall apartments. But they drove a cool car. Nothing else really mattered but what you drove.
I am pulled by this temptation all the time. It is my stuff and my talents and my applause from others is what truly gives me worth. I have to keep reminding myself that God tells me, “You are my child, Mark, whom I love; with you I am well-pleased.”
Some of us are more tempted popularity. We are addicted to what others think about us. Often it has little to do with being a star although that is what the devil tempted Jesus with. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself off the top of this temple and command the angels to catch.” Jesus wasn’t concerned with popularity or how he looked in other people’s eyes. He didn’t need to put on a show. He didn’t need to prove anything. He didn’t need anyone’s approval.