Summary: Jesus didn’t just defeat sin for us on the cross...it started early in His ministry when He was tempted. Link included to formatted text, handout, and PowerPoint Presentation.
The Gospel of Jesus – Swordfight in the Desert
A three-year-old entered the kitchen when his mother was busy elsewhere in the house. She had told him not to get into the cookies. But in her absence he pulled a kitchen chair over to the counter and climbed up on it. Then he took the lid off the cookie jar and had just gotten a cookie into his mouth when his mother entered the room and demanded to know what he was doing. The three-year-old looked at her with big, innocent eyes and said, "I just climbed up here to smell the cookies, and my tooth got caught on one of them."
Today we look at the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. Last Sunday I preached about the baptism of Jesus Christ. One prominent point of my
message was the fact that at His baptism, it was shown that Jesus would save His people by suffering and dying. At one point in my message I also pointed out that for Him to die for our sins, He must be spotless and without sin. We know this from the Old Testament, where sacrifices had to be spotless in order to be acceptable by God. So at the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus is required to face the strongest temptations the devil could bring against Him. We can see this from v.1, where we see that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. The language of Mk. 1:12 is even stronger, “Immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness.” Why did the Holy Spirit insist that Jesus go into the wilderness? It was for the express purpose of being tested by the devil.
Ill.--As the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West. Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, “Are you trying to break this bridge?”
“No,” the builder replied, “I’m trying to prove that the bridge won’t break.” In the same way, the temptations Jesus faced weren’t designed by God to see if Christ would sin, but to prove that He wouldn’t.
I believe Matthew’s main purpose for this account was to affirm yet again that Jesus Christ is the sinless Son of God, the promised Messiah. But I believe this text of Scripture also has a practical application. Jesus exposed Satan and his tactics, and He defeated Satan. Because of His victory, we can have victory over the tempter.
All too often temptations come our way, and we are defeated by them. The devil gets the victory over our lives. Did you yield to temptation last night? How about this morning? Well God wants you to be able to share in the victory of Christ over temptation. So be sure to listen carefully this morning, and I will share with you some ways you can have victory over temptation.
Now beginning in v.3 Satan assails the Son of God with 3 powerful temptations. Let’s examine each of these temptations together. In vv.3-4 we see:
I. CHRIST WAS VICTORIOUS OVER PASSION.
Let me give you a little background to this temptation. Now Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and nights. He no doubt was preparing Himself spiritually for the ministry He was about to begin. Now with that background, I want to share with you a few principles that I gleaned from the first temptation:
The devil’s main purpose was to overthrow the Messiah at the outset. He knew that Jesus had come to bring salvation, and he knew that if he could get Jesus to sin, that would ruin the whole plan of salvation.
Satan waited until the conditions were right before he began his onslaught of temptation. Notice in v.1 it says that Jesus was “led up...into the wilderness…” The Judean wilderness stretches between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. It is an area of yellow sand, crumbling limestone, and contorted strata. It glows and shimmers with heat like some vast furnace. The conditions of the wilderness made the deprivation of hunger even greater. Christ also faced loneliness and isolation. So after spending 40 days in such a place, it is something of an understatement when Matthew says that Jesus “hungered.” He was famished. It is said that during a prolonged fast, the feeling of hunger goes away after three or four days, only to return with renewed force. Hunger is the God-given desire to meet our natural need for food. And this sudden onslaught of recurring hunger became the opportunity for the first temptation.
And when you are hungry, the opportunity is certainly present for temptation. For example, you may be tempted to satisfy your needs in ways that God has prohibited. Yes we need food, but we do not meet the need for food by stealing. Yes we need food, but we should not abuse God’s provision with gluttony. So we need to watch out. There are certain times when we are more prone to temptation. Satan may tempt you at a time of bodily weakness. He may tempt you in a time of spiritual weakness. After you have missed church for several weeks, or after you have gone several days without praying and reading your Bible, you will be vulnerable to the temptations of Satan. By the way, another prime temptation is when you seem to be strong and self-confident