Summary: The First Sunday in Lent Temptation of Jesus
1st Sunday of Lent
"Jesus was tempted"
When I say the word Jesus what kind of mental picture comes into your mind? Close your eyes for just a second, don’t fall asleep, what kind of picture flashes in your mind’s eye at the sound of the word Jesus? Do you picture Jesus as most artist do, a man with long flowing hair, with smooth complexion, with every piece of hair in place, and him never needing a shave? Or do you picture him walking along the dusty, dirty roads of Galilee, with his feet getting all dirty from his open sandals, his brow wet with sweat from the heat, his clothes wrinkled and worn, his face lined with the signs of age. His hands with callous from working in his father’s carpenter shop, and his face with a 5 o’clock shadow? How do you picture this Jesus Christ?? Do you see him as somehow always having a hallow or a ring of light around his head as some artist see him?
Sometimes you and I spiritualize him to such an extend, that we forget he was a man, a human being, an historical person who walked this earth who did the kinds of things human beings do. Jesus Christ was true man, and true God. As a man, as a human being he felt, he experienced, he encountered all the emotions, all the senses, all the circumstances that we feel in life. He ate, he drank, he slept, he got dirty, he needed a bath, he prayed, he cried, he gave thanks, he worshiped. Jesus did and experienced all the things you and I experience in this life.
And as our gospel text tells us this morning, he even experienced temptation. Jesus was tempted as you and I are tempted. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil after he had fasted for forty days. Forty days without food or drink in the wilderness that was such a forsaken place that people would avoid it whenever possible. Jesus was tempted by the devil to take the easy way out. He was tempted not so much with doing something evil, but with taking the easy way out
The first temptation was to change stones into bread. This temptation really seemed like a good idea, give the people what they think they need, food. Become the bread, Messiah, feed the hungry people of the world, satisfy their need for the basic thing of life food, then they will follow you, then you will have no problem getting the people to follow. Jesus was tempted with giving the people what they wanted instead of what they needed. Sure the people wanted food, but Jesus knew they needed more than food, they needed his spiritual food,they needed to listen to his teaching not because he bribed them with food, because he offered them life, eternal life.
The second temptation was even more dramatic. The devil asked Jesus to worship him, then the devil would give Jesus the authority over all the earthly kingdoms. Jesus would be in charge of every kingdom of the earth. Jesus would be our president, He would be the one who would run every country. With Jesus in control of the world’s political, military, and economic power, disarmament would be swift, peace would be certain and an equal distribution of wealth would be immediate. Isn’t this a great idea? Jesus could take the easy way out, acknowledge the devil’s control of the earth, then he could change the course of history.
But Jesus knew he would change the course of history in a far more dramatic way. He would die on a cross and then his father would raise him from the dead defeating the devil’s control of this earth. Then Jesus working through his church would bring peace, disarmament, and an equal distribution of wealth, but all of this would be a long, drawn-out struggle. Jesus was tempted to take the easy way out, to avoid the cross, and to do the changes of this world himself instead of working through his people, the church. Sometimes this temptation is very difficult for us to defeat. Sometimes it is easier to do thing ourselves.
As a parent, when I am teaching the girls to do something, it is frustrating watching them try, maybe fail, but then try again to do something that I could have done in just a matter of moments. But if I would have done it for them, they would have learned any thing. If Jesus would have worshiped the devil and then be given the authority of the whole world, we would not have learned anything about establishing peace and justice on this earth because Jesus would have done it all for us.
The third temptation was the most dramatic. The devil had an other way for Jesus to serve as the Son of God: "Dive off the temple tower and let God perform a dramatic rescue," This event would show that God could be manipulated to do what we want and need. He is at our service. Such a message would be appealing to he masses, for we like to hear that God will keep us successful and happy. Take the easy way out and have God serve you, Jesus instead of you serving God. Yes, Jesus bargain with God, make deals with him, you be the boss, Jesus, sell God a hill of goods.