Summary: Jesus was tempted in three areas, as we are – Lust of the flesh (our body), lust of the eyes (our mind), pride of life (our soul). (1 John 2:16). He faced up to these temptations by knowing the scriptures. If we know our Bible, we can face up to the tempt
January 14, 2007
Facing Temptation – Matthew 4:1-11
Temptations. We all have them. We’d like to have that big, beautiful house, that fancy car, the high-paying career, the winning lottery ticket. Those are big temptations. But on a daily basis, we’re faced with things that tempt us in more subtle ways. The foods we eat, the thoughts we have, and also in what we truly believe about ourselves, and about God. It’s these areas in which the devil can start to get a foothold in our lives, and draw us away from the things that God would rather have us keep our minds on.
Story: One night an Arab had settled in for the night and had just fallen asleep when his camel stuck his head in his tent and explained that it was awful cold and asked permission to just stick his legs inside the tent to keep them warm. Granting him permission the Arab went back to sleep. A little while later the camel woke him up a second time and asked permission to stick his head in. Again permission was granted. This continued on throughout the night until finally the Arab woke up to find the entire camel in the tent with him. When he told the camel that there just was not enough room in the tent for the both of them the camel suggested that the Arab might want to leave. That is exactly what Satan does. He slips into our lives a little at a time and one day we wake up and alarmed we tell him that there just is not enough room for both he and Jesus in our lives. To which he suggests that Jesus might then want to leave....
Our lives are full of temptations. We are constantly bombarded by ads telling us that we just aren’t complete unless we have the latest product to fulfill our wants/desires. Sure, they may look harmless on their own, but the fact we give in to these ads is giving in to temptation, and that can lead to problems, even addictions, or simply put…sin.
In Matthew 4:1-11, we’ll read how Jesus himself was put to the test. Face to face with the devil he was tempted. Why was Jesus tempted like this? Why would God allow the devil to try to cause Jesus to sin? I believe it was to show US how to overcome sin, and to put the devil into his place! Let’s look at how Jesus overcame these three temptations of the devil.
First, realize that Jesus was in a weakened physical state after fasting for 40 days in the desert. He ate nothing, and we don’t know if he even drank anything. This would be an ‘absolute’ fast. But, as we see in the passage, His MENTAL capacities were sharp!
How do you feel when you miss even one meal? We are so spoiled here Canada to have, on average, 3 meals a day. We eat when we want to , not when we need to. We snack, we munch, we sip, and drink almost to our heart’s content. Not that it’s GOOD for our HEART to eat some of the foods we tend to crave. Now think of how you would feel after a day of no eating. How about 2 days? A week? Can you even imagine 40 days? I have never fasted for longer than a couple of days. And that was hard. I don’t know if there is a word that could describe how HUNGRY Jesus was after 40 days.
Now, in this weakened condition, the devil comes to him. Another name for him here is the ‘tempter’ (Luke 4) . And the first thing he tempts Jesus with is food. He asks Jesus to prove he is the Son of God by turning stones to bread. He knows Jesus could do it. He doesn’t ask Jesus to show his miraculous power, but instead tries to appeal to his human craving for food. Interesting… I did some reading on fasting, and probably the WORST thing you could do after a prolonged fast would be to eat bread. The carbohydrates would be turned to sugars in your blood so quickly, that you would probably go into convulsions or seizures. Really nice of the devil, eh? But Jesus answers with a great scripture, “man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Deut. 8:3)
In C. S. Lewis’ classic The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Edmund makes his way through the wardrobe and into Narnia where he meets the White Witch. Unaware of the evil of the White Witch, Edmund climbs up into her sleigh. The Witch asks Edmund what he would like and his request is for some Turkish delight, a sweet blend of sugar and starch, covered in powdered sugar. Later Edmund would forsake his friends and seek out the Witch for more of the Turkish delight. The White Witch did not force Edmund to eat the Turkish delight or to leave his friends. Edmund did so out of his own desires within him.