Summary: Jesus’ preparation for His temptation in the wilderness shows us how to prepare for the temptations we will face in life.
Words are important and if we’re not careful they can easily be misunderstood. These actual newspaper headlines were collected by graduate students at the Columbia School of Journalism and illustrate that truth:
•Autos killing 110 a Day; Let’s Resolve to do Better
•Blind Woman Gets New Kidney from Dad she Hasn’t Seen in Years
•Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
•Grandmother of Eight Makes Hole in One
•If Strike isn’t Settled Quickly it May Last a While
•Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
•Juvenile Court Tries Shooting Defendant
•Kicking Baby Considered To Be Healthy
•Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years
•Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
•Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say
•Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
•Two Convicts Evade Noose, Jury Hung
•Two Sisters Reunite after Eighteen Years at Checkout Counter
•Two Soviet Ships Collide - One Dies
•War Dims Hope for Peace
As we continue examining the beginnings of the ministry of Jesus this morning, we’ll look at an event that demonstrates just how important words and their meaning were for Jesus and how important they are for us as we live our daily lives as Christ followers.
Last week, we focused on the baptism of Jesus, which certainly had to be one of the high points of His earthly ministry. I certainly know if I heard an audible voice from God saying that He was pleased with me, that would be a mountaintop experience for me.
But immediately after that Jesus faces a much more difficult task as He heads into the wilderness to face the temptation of Satan. That event is recorded in all three of the synoptic gospels, but we’ll primarily use Luke’s account this morning. So go ahead and turn with me to Luke 4 and follow along as I begin reading in verse 1:
1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
and him only shall you serve.’”
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
Jesus is letting us in on a secret here. Since there is no one else around to observe this event, the only way that we know about it is that Jesus chose to reveal it to those who would later be the source or sources for Matthew, Mark and Luke as they recorded their gospel accounts. So since Jesus chose to do that, it seems pretty clear that that there are some important things that He wants us to learn from this account.
Before we deal with the primary principles that we’ll draw from this passage, let me first just make a couple of general observations that will help to set the stage:
1. We are most vulnerable after our “mountaintop experiences”
Most of us are probably familiar with 1 Corinthians 10:13, which deals with temptation:
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13 (ESV)
But how many of you know the verse right before it – verse 12?
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)
Jesus clearly understood that. He knew that after the mountaintop experience of His baptism, He would be most vulnerable to temptation. And Satan knew that, too. But, as we’ll see, because Jesus understood that, He had made preparations that allowed Him to resist the devil and avoid succumbing to the temptations that were hurled His way.