Summary: Tell Me the Story of Jesus: The Man
This is the second sermon in a series introducing Jesus Christ and His time on earth. Today we look at Jesus just as His three years of ministry are getting started. We know this story as Jesus being tempted in the wilderness.
There is a story told about a little boy in a grocery store that I think illustrates the nature of temptation. The boy was standing near an open box of peanut butter cookies. Now then, young man,¡¨ said the grocer as he approached the young man. What are you up to?¡¨ Nothing,¡¨ replied the boy: Nothing.¡¨Well it looks to me like you were trying to take a cookie.¨ You¡¦re wrong, mister, I'm trying not to!¨ That's temptation!
There was once a poor country pastor was livid when he confronted his wife with the receipt for a $250 dress she had bought. "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, "You look great in that dress. You should buy it."
"Well," the pastor 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."
How many of us have shrugged and said, ¡§The Devil made me do it!¡¨ and used that as an excuse when caught doing something we weren¡¦t supposed to? It¡¦s a convenient defense. But there¡¦s one problem: the Devil can¡¦t make us do anything. He may be clever, but he¡¦s not all powerful.
It may feel that way, however, when we¡¦re dangling on temptation¡¦s hook, because Satan has a tried-and-true strategy for luring us into his net. We all know what a fish hook looks like. Of course normally there is bait hanging on it or you can use bait that is colorful and attractive to lure in a fish. Isn¡¦t it interesting that artificial bait is often referred to as a lure? One person wrote about it this way.
A. He lays out the bait. Satan knows people like a skilled angler knows fish. He notes our habits. He observes our hangouts. Then he prepares a tailor-made lure and drops it right in front of our noses.
B. He makes the appeal. He can¡¦t make us bite, but he does know what happens inside us when we catch a glimpse of that tantalizing bait. Our fleshly nature draws us to it. We linger over it. We toy with it. We roll it over in our minds until it consumes our imagination.
C. The struggle begins. Immediately, our conscience jabs us in the ribs, warning us of the danger. We know it¡¦s wrong to take a bite. We may even see the barbed consequences poking through the bait. But Satan¡¦s invitation looks so delicious. What do we do?
Fourth, the temptation ends with the response. Either we resist or yield; swim away or swallow it whole. Anyone who has resisted knows the feeling of freedom that decision brings. On the other hand, anyone who has yielded knows the feeling of emptiness that follows and the pain of the hook in your cheek.¡¨ [Charles Swindoll. The Origin of Something Glorious: Jesus Birth and the Beginning of Ministry - A Study of Luke 1:1-6:49. Bible Study Guide. (Anaheim, California: Insight for Living. 1994). p. 83]
Picture of person ¡§hooked¡¨ from anti smoking campaign in the UK.
Today we are going to see Jesus meet and master temptation. In this story we will see three general kinds of temptation that our adversary is still using against us. By way of introduction I want you to see with me when the testing of Jesus came about.
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.¨ Luke 4:1-2
A. Matthew 4 records that this temptation of Jesus came directly after He was baptized. It was here that God the Father spoke and said, This is my son in whom I am well pleased!¨ What a spiritual high. You will discover that testing will often come on the heels of a spiritual high point in your life.
B. It came at time of physical weakness; Jesus had not eaten in 40 days. Temptations often come when we are a weakened state physically or emotionally, when we are exhausted and emotionally spent.
In a survey on temptation among readers of the Discipleship Journal, the respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent.)¡¨ [Discipleship Journal, November / December, 1992.]