Summary: A Sermon for Lent.
"Learning to Depend on God"
A colleague of mine tells about one Sunday when her gregarious middle son--who was just shy of 4 years old--was taught this Scripture passage from Luke during Sunday school.
On the ride home from church she was surprised when her son started asking her some questions.
"Hey mom," he started, "what do you know about the devil?"
A bit startled, she asked: "What do you know about the devil?"
"Well," he began, "the devil talked to Jesus and the devil was mean."
Then, leaning closer to her and dropping his voice to a loud whisper, he said, "if we were in a store, and you and Dad were in one aisle, and I was in another aisle, and,"--his hushed tones became downright conspiratorial at this point-- "there was candy..."--he paused for effect.
"The devil would say, 'You take some!'"
My colleague was impressed at how much her son seemed to understand about the story so she asked him, "Honey, if we were in another aisle, and there was candy, and the devil said, 'You should take some!'
What would you say back to the devil?"
Then she says that a genuinely sweet grin lit up his entire face and without hesitation he replied, "Oh! I would say thank you!"
My colleague wasn't surprised that a 3-year-old had missed the point, but lots of us miss the point all the time, do we not?
It is far easier for us to say, "Thank you," when temptation comes.
In our Scripture Lesson for this morning we see that the devil works on the basis of distortions and lies.
The devil presents to us wants as needs, lies as truths and distrust as faith.
Some people might ask: "Where else do we hear lies that sound like the truth?"
From politicians, perhaps?
In the media?
In the common sense advice that popular culture sells or even in our own conversations with ourselves, God and the devil.
Comedian Stephen Colbert came up with the word "truthiness" just moments before taping the premiere episode of The Colbert Report--his former political satire show-- on October 17, 2005, after deciding that the originally scripted word – "truth" – was not absolutely ridiculous enough.
"We're not talking about truth, we're talking about something that seems like truth – the truth we want to exist", he explained.
He introduced his definition in the first segment of the episode, saying: "Now I'm sure some of the 'word police', the 'word-nazis' over at Webster's are gonna say, 'Hey, that's not a word'.
Well, anybody who knows me knows I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books.
Constantly telling us what is or isn't true. Or what did or didn't happen."
Remember the conversation the devil had with Adam and Eve in the Garden?
It was very persuasive, was it not?
"Did God really say that you shouldn't eat from any tree in the garden?," he teased.
Eventually, he was able to convince them of the "truthiness" of God's command.
And when they "saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom" they, in essence said, "thank you" to the devil for his temptation, then took the fruit and ate it.
Yes, the devil works on the basis of distortions and lies.
And you and I and everyone else down the line have fallen--literally Fallen because we listen to and believe them.
When looking at Bible passages it is important to look at what comes before the passage we are reading.
In this case, right before Jesus was "led by the Spirit into the wilderness" we are given Jesus' genealogy in Luke 3:23-38.
And we are told that Jesus' genealogy is traced all the way back to Adam.
If there was ever any doubt about Jesus being truly human--this proves He shared in our flesh and blood--in the temptations we face.
Jesus is the descendant of Adam; He must now face, not only what Adam faced, but the powers that have been unleashed through Adam's rebellion and sin.
Add to that what the long years of habitual rebellion against God has done to humans and to the world; the flesh and the devil have become used to twisting human beings into whatever shape they want--and Jesus has a HUGE task on His hands.
Not only that, but Luke 3:23 describes Adam in this way: "Adam son of God."
And in our passage for today, the devil's come on line to Jesus begins with "Since you are God's Son..."
"Since you are God's Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread..."
"Since you are God's Son, throw yourself down from here..."
Again, back in Luke 3--at Jesus' baptism, God the Holy Spirit and God the Father answered the question of whether Jesus is God's Son or not.