Summary: In this message, part 2 in series Episodes, Dave looks closely at Christ's temptations in the desert. As it was for Jesus so it will be for us, so how might these temptations come to us?
The Great Temptations of Christ
Episodes, prt. 2
Wildwind Community Church
September 26, 2010
As it was for Jesus... As it was for Jesus...As it was for Jesus...
So it will be for you. Jesus is our model. Our path. Our guide. Our example. Traditionally in the church when we have talked about Jesus as our example, we have been talking strictly in moral terms. Of course we don’t even come close to following Jesus in even just a moral sense, but at least this way we can contain him and keep him from really posing a threat to our values and basic way of life. If Jesus, though, is to be a model for us not just in terms of morality but in terms of walking for us the very journey we must also walk, showing us how to perfectly combine spiritual and physical in our bodies, and showing us how to love, how to refuse to play by the world’s rules, how to truly be free and think for ourselves, how to suffer, how to forgive, how to die, and how to overcome death – well, that’s a different animal, isn’t it?
We’re in a three-week series right now I’m calling Episodes – scenes from the life of Jesus where we look not just at what happened and how we can moralize about it, but how we can see in Christ’s journey the journey each of us must also take if we wish to truly follow him. Last week we looked at the baptism of Jesus – how at his baptism he affirmed the idea that God is not just in the temple, but God is here in the desert – and perhaps more powerfully here than in the temple. We saw how at his baptism, Jesus receives the clear message from God that he belongs to God, and is chosen, marked, and loved by God. It is in this realization of who he is that Jesus begins his ministry. But before he can officially start his ministry, one other thing must happen first. Jesus must confront the illusions of the world. He must grapple with and realize the distortions that envelop him like they envelop everyone who lives in this world. Jesus, like you and like me, must find out who he is – hear God clearly speaking his name – and then he must come to see the world’s illusions for what they are. We pick up in the last verse of the previous chapter:
Matthew 3:16-17 (MSG)
16 The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God's Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him.
17 And along with the Spirit, a voice: "This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life."
Matthew 4:1-11 (NIV)
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
3 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."
4 Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.
6 "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'"
7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.
9 "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
10 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'"
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
The first thing of course that we need to note is that scripture says Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted. The best way of understanding this, I believe, is to realize that this simply is the journey. It was the journey of Jesus, and as it was for Jesus, so it will be for you. If you are following God, if you seek to know the truth, if you desire to see clearly, then you too will find yourself in the desert – the place of barrenness – facing the same temptations Jesus faced.