Summary: What can we learn from Jesus’ tempatations in Mt 4?

8.00 am NR 13-02-05


We all have heard the story of Jesus’ three temptations, either from Mt or Lk’s Gospels

Why - you might ask - did both Mt and Lk decide that these were stories about Jesus worth recording

What is the message of these stories for us today?

Having fasted for 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was on the edge of his mental and physical strength.

And he was vulnerable to sin.

And for me, Jesus’ three temptations mirror three major areas of life where we are most vulnerable to sin

1. The first of these three MAJOR AREAS of life is our need for food – yet it leaves us vulnerable to the sin of gluttony.

Look at any newspaper and you will find one or two articles on food.

You’ll also find something about losing weight or about people who become obsessive in losing weight!

We love food – but so often don’t eat the right things.

There is a multi-million pound industry out there attached to our guilt – an industry built up on concocting diets

Rosemary Conley has made a fortune - as did the late Dr. Atkins - with perfecting diets.

And I am just as concerned as anyone about weight. I have just finished a “Commando diet” (in which I lost a stone in a week). If anyone wants a copy – see me later!!!

As a nation, we are obsessed with food – yet we know too much of it is not good for us.

And it is when I am at my lowest – my most stressed out – that’s when I am more tempted to the sin of gluttony – or put in modern parlance – to “snack out”.

Jesus had committed himself to fast and pray. He didn’t have to but he had. Fasting and prayer was a time when Jesus gave himself exclusively to seek God.

So when the Devil comes along and tells him what to do, Jesus has a choice. He can either listen to him or ignore him. There was nothing wrong with eating bread- the question was – who was going to direct his life

Note it wasn’t his heavenly Father who told Jesus to turn the stones into bread – and then eat – it was the Devil.

And Jesus did not want to be led by the Devil.

Jesus had rights – he was entitled to his creature comforts like anyone else.

But Jesus gave up all these rights to fulfil the responsibilities that the call of His Heavenly Father brought.

He gave up his rights for the sake of preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

There will be times when God calls us to give up good things for the sake of the Kingdom.

And the Devil will sit on our shoulder and give us advice. In fact he might even quote Scripture at us.

Who are we going to listen to?

2. The second of these MAJOR AREAS of life that Jesus’ three temptations mirror - is our need for our self worth to be recognised – yet it leaves us vulnerable to the sin of self seeking.

If you’re anything like me – you want people to love and respect you. We want to be a significant person in at least one other person’s life.

We want to be able to leave the world a better place for our having been here

Many of us have dreamt about doing great things – whether it be

to earn lots of money like John Paul Getty

to play a violin like Yehudi Menuhin,

to paint like Pablo Picasso or

to influence the affairs of nations like Pres. George Bush.

Jesus, the Son of God, could have proclaimed his greatness by jumping off the Temple like superman - and God would have sent his angels to protect him.

But that wasn’t the plan that God had for Jesus’ life –because it would have shortcut the Cross.

Imagine what an impact that would have had in the Jerusalem Post the following day!

But that wasn’t God’s way – it was the Devil who suggested it.

3. The last of these three MAJOR AREAS of life is our need to be someone yet it leaves us vulnerable to the sin of lusting for power

It is something many of us crave for - deep down. We want to be in charge – in some form or other. It might be outright or as the power behind the throne.

We see people striving to better themselves to get to the top in business

We want the accolade of being recognised as being successful. And here the devil was handing it to Jesus on a plate.

"If you want to be the boss, Jesus" the Devil says: "I can give it to you. Just bow down to me."

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