Summary: Jesus' temptation and success provides us hope through an understanding of God’s inner workings when we are tempted.
This week we begin a new 6-week message series entitled, “Jesus Television or JTV.” The premise is that for Americans, who watch an average of 4 ½ hours of TV per day, 32 hours per week (Nielsen Media Research – www.buzzle.com) , the TV and its program represent almost a 1/3 of person’s waking hours. It’s really an incredible amount of time so I began to wonder if God had operated a TV network to get His message across, what he would broadcast? Of course, I believe God would operate a cable station because people would have to choose to watch, it would be good public service for the cable operators and all the shows would have to be of the reality variety. After all, the story of Jesus life is simply the most riveting reality TV ever, but how would you get people to watch it? I think God would market it by mimicking current hit shows by using the hit show’s name while telling the story from a different viewpoint. That’s why today’s show is called, “Temptation Island.” Temptation Island was a hit show on a few years ago. It was a show run on Fox in which the premise of the show was to have couples agree to live with a group of singles of the opposite sex, in order to test the strength of their relationships. It was a ruthless show that lived up to the word: Temptation.
Temptation is an act of – influencing by exciting hope or desire – being enticed to have or do something one knows to avoid.
It doesn’t take a reality show to know we are all tempted. Temptation happens every day doesn’t it? From Chocolate Chip cookies to lustful thoughts, it all can be tempting. However, temptation is not in and of itself evil or bad. It only becomes bad when one succumbs to the temptation. Temptation forces each of us to examine our values, motives and even our character.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Today’s scripture is interesting because it tells us Jesus faced temptations like each of us. The scripture says Jesus was immediately led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to face temptation. Some might wonder why? Why would the Holy Spirit intentionally do this? The answer is that through the temptation of Christ’s character His stature in the history of the world was confirmed and that he would and could conquer the plots of the evil one. The parallel descriptions of the same event from both Matt and Luke 4, offer more detail, but the result is the same. Christ is tempted but does not succumb. Jesus, in all his humanness, demonstrates man can overcome temptation by realizing a greater plan is at work. It’s interesting to note that Christ fasted during His time on Temptation Island. Fasting and all spiritual disciplines are exercises to develop a closer connection to God and the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s role was not to be the tempter but to be a companion & protector through the time of testing while being the healer after the event.
So what does this mean for us and for the church? First, it means that each one of us should expect to be tempted. If Jesus was tempted so will you. However, through Jesus experiences, we need to realize that we are not bad because we’ve been tempted. We should be grateful that God thinks enough of us to allow us to be tested like Jesus. A wise person once said, “God never gives us more than we can handle, I just wish He wouldn’t think so highly of me.” Second, we learn from this event that in the midst of our temptation, God via the Holy Spirit never leaves us. He is there watching over us. This is really convicting to consider just how many dark places Christ has gone. How hard it must have been for Him to stand by waiting for us to just ask for His help? You see, the Holy Spirit is always present waiting to swoop in, if and when we call upon Him for help. Third, we learn from this scripture to effectively resist temptation we must be more connected to Him because temptation is a spiritual battle. Luke 4 tells us during his description of this event that Jesus “being full of the Spirit” was led into the wilderness. The natural question is for us is, How? How can you and I, mere mortals, be “full of the spirit?” The answer is of course to, “Get back to basics.” It’s the reason during lent we are supposed to confess more, pray more, fast more, read God’s word and mediate more. All of these spiritual disciplines bring us into the fullness of His love so we can weather the temptation that is bound to come our way for a season, a year and/or even our lives. The hope is that your special Lenten activity will create a “new” you. Finally, Mat 4:11 teaches us the Holy Spirit comes to us via angels to help us debrief from the storm of testing. In so doing, we can look back on the temptation; see the growth, understanding of our weaknesses and opportunity to connect more deeply.