Summary: In this sermon we look at the temptations of Jesus and learn how to overcome our own.
A. The story is told of a minister who parked his car in a no-parking zone in a large city because he was short of time and couldn’t find a space with a meter.
1. So he put a note under the windshield wiper that read: “I have circled the block 100 times. If I don’t park here, I’ll miss my appointment. FORGIVE US OUR TRESPASSES.”
2. When he returned, he found a citation from a police officer along with this note. “I’ve circled this block for 10 years. If I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.” (www.jokes.christiansunite.com)
B. One day a dad was trying to teach his 6 year-old son how to shoot a basketball.
1. The boy would push the ball as hard as he could toward the basket, but it would always fall short.
2. The dad would then demonstrate how to do it and effortlessly toss the ball toward the goal, saying, “Just do it like this, son. It’s easy.”
3. The boy would try again and fail again.
4. So the father would demonstrate it again.
5. Finally, the boy said, “It’s easy for you up there. You don’t know how hard it is from down here!”
C. Brothers and sisters, as you well know, temptation is everywhere, and it is hard down here!
1. That’s one of the reasons Jesus came.
2. He came to experience temptation and show us how to overcome it.
3. The Hebrew writer gave us this wonderful news, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb. 4:15-16)
4. Our Jesus knows what we are going through, because He has been here and He has battled against the Tempter.
5. Therefore, we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, because we know that God understands not only how hard it is to overcome temptation, but He knows how to help us do just that – win the victory over temptation.
D. Last week we spent some time examining the baptism of Jesus.
1. In humble obedience Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordon River to fulfill all righteousness.
2. In so doing He identified Himself with us and set us an example.
3. God the Father spoke a Word from heaven, and God the Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove.
4. Thus Jesus received the affirmation and anointing He needed to begin His ministry.
5. What happened next?
6. Did Jesus go into the marketplace and begin His ministry of teaching and healing? No.
7. The Bible says, “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” (Mt. 4:1)
E. The story of the temptation of Jesus is told in Matthew, Mark and Luke, but not in John.
1. All three of them mention the fact that it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the desert for the showdown with Satan.
2. Satan did not lure Jesus into the desert, God put Him there on purpose.
3. Luke tells us that Jesus was “full of the Spirit” as He entered into that contest with the devil.
F. Here’s an interesting aspect of the story – In the absence of eyewitnesses, all the details of the story must have come from Jesus Himself and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
1. Jesus thought it important to tell His disciples about His personal battle with temptation.
2. As we will see, there are important lessons for us to learn from His victory.
G. A significant question comes to mind at this point – Was Jesus really tempted?
1. Some have concluded that because Jesus was 100% divine it was not possible for Him to give in to temptation.
2. But that is where the mystery of the incarnation comes into play.
3. Jesus was 100% divine, but He was at the same time 100% human.
4. I believe that the temptation of Jesus was a genuine conflict, not just a contrived play where Jesus acted out His role with a prearranged outcome. (Like professional wrestling)
5. The same tempter who had found a fatal spot of vulnerability in Adam and Eve aimed his focus at Jesus with deadly accuracy.
6. I have to believe that this was Satan’s best shot at the time.
7. Hebrews 2:18 tells us, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
7. And although Satan is the one who posed the tests, in the end it was he who flunked them.