Summary: A lesson to encourage total surrender to God
OUR GREATEST TEMPTATION
INTRODUCTION: A poor country preacher and his wife were having a terrible argument. Seems she had bought a very expensive dress and he was none to happy. "How could you do this!" he exclaimed. "I don’t know," she wailed, "I was standing in the store looking at the dress. Then I found myself trying it on. It was like the Devil was whispering to me, "Gee, you look great in that dress. You should buy it." "Well," the preacher persisted, "You know how to deal with him! Just tell him, "Get behind me, Satan!" "I did," replied his wife, "but then he said "It looks great from back here, too." This is how Satan often tempts us. He appeals to our carnal side, our fleshly desires or weaknesses. That was the case with Eve on the Garden of Eden – the Fruit was good for food, it looked good to the eyes and would make her wise like God. The same sort of scheme is used with Jesus in the wilderness – stones to bread, wealthy cities, angels to the rescue. In Luke 22 we find Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane and Satan is up to his old tricks. READ TEXT Jesus is only hours from the cross and He knows it. This is where we find Him uttering this prayer and where we get a glimpse into a struggle that we share with Him. Here Jesus is wrestling with humanities greatest temptation – the temptation to exalt self and failure to surrender to God. In this struggle there are two lessons.
I. THE STRUGGLE TO DENY SELF
A. A lot has been said about Jesus sharing with us in the human condition, and rightly so. By the wisdom of God, Jesus was not spared any of the things humanity bears each day of existence.
1. He was as much man as He was God, feeling every pain, bearing every emotion and wrestling with Satan every step of the way.
2. The Hebrew writer tells us that by His human experience He is now qualified to be our High Priest – testifying before God on our behalf as an expert witness to the trials and tribulations we face.
B. In Garden of Gethsemane Jesus is once again being tempted by Satan. No, Satan is not clearly identified in this passage, but he is definitely here.
1. Jesus knew He must deny himself to fulfill the will of God. That was why He was born of a woman. That was His mission, but Satan has put the fear of surrendering His life into His mortal body.
2. This is the Devil’s last chance to ruin God’s plan for redemption. If he can just get Jesus to put it off, to find one excuse or to even say NO, he then has won. This is why Jesus says, as Matthew records it, "Let this cup pass from me."
3. His human side was not ready to let go. He was struggling with the need to deny self and surrender to the will of God. And Satan seems to have found a way to afflict the Son of God.
C. Do we not face that same struggle today? It is not easy to deny oneself, even for God. How often do we find ourselves making excuses, offering up alternate plans, or just saying NO?
1. We do it in regards to obedience, to morality, to righteousness, even salavation. We plead, we beg, we insist that our thinking, our reasoning, our planning is better than God’s.
2. This is Satan living large in our lives. This is Satan planting the seed of doubt and cultivating it with humanism and selfishness. This is Satan playing his trump card, which is our weakness for self-exaltation.
3. And when this happens we do what Paul described in Romans 1 – "serve the created thing rather than the Creator."
4. We become as Demas in II Timothy 4 – in that we "love the things of this world than the things of God."
5. Luke 17:33
6. Matthew 10:32ff
II. SURRENDERING TO GOD
A. The struggle of self-denial was a difficult one for Jesus. So much so that He was in great anguish and sweat poured from His body like blood from an open wound. Satan made it that way. Yet, Jesus was not overwhelmed by it.
1. He knew that Satan was the source of this great temptation. That is why He fought so hard against it and prayed so fervently about it, and the words He uttered in His prayer show just how aware He was of Satan’s presence.
2. Notice Luke 22:42. Jesus appealed to the Will of God, even when asking for a release from the cross. This is the equivalent of quoting Scripture as a defense against the Devil, and it seems as if He has done this before.