Summary: What can we learn from the temptations of Jesus?

Luke 4:1-13 The Temptation of Jesus

TSJ/WSG 17-02-13


Story: Manfred, Freiherr von Richthofen was a famous German First World War fighter pilot.

He was better known as the Red Baron because he flew a distinctive a red Fokker aircraft.

He shot down more combat planes than any one else on either side in the first World war

His known kill tally was 80.

On 21st April 1918, he began chasing a Canadian plane - that was trying to escape the battle over the Mor-lan-court Ridge, near the river Somme.

As the Red Baron pursued his prey, he strayed behind Allied lines.

He dived too low into the enemy lines

And he also he missed a Canadian pilot (Arthur) “Roy” Brown coming up on his tail to help his comrade.

We will never know whether it was a shot from the ground - or a shot from Brown that killed Richthofen.

But what we do know is that the “Red Baron” came to his end because he made the mistake of pursuing that Allied ‘plane “too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory” (as one report so succinctly put it)

And many committed Christians have been shot down because they have followed temptation for too long, too far, and too low into enemy territory.

And as with Richthofen – they are then caught unawares and then have to deal with the conseqences.

Sin takes us

- further than we ever wanted to go,

- costs more than we were ever willing to pay, &

- hurts more than we ever dreamed it would.

Lent has started – a time when we remember Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, as he prepared for his public ministry

And Lent is a timely reminder of that we too have to learn how to handle temptations.

The book of Hebrews tells us that in Jesus we have a High Priest who is able to sympathise with our temptations.

That encourages me

Jesus was tempted – as our Gospel reading tells us - yet he did not sin.

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.

Yet Jesus chose not to sin

And for me, Jesus’ three temptations mirror three major areas of Life where we are most vulnerable to fall.

1. The first of these is that we have our daily needs

In Jesus’ temptations – his particular daily need at this time was for food.

He’d been fasting for 40 days – probably only drinking a little water

He was hungry - He felt like having some food to eat

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 conflict was simply this

“Who was Jesus going to listen to”

His Heavenly Father or 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 our rights to the good things in life nfor 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.

The question is : Who are we going to listen to?

And prayer is all about listening to God.

2 The second MAJOR AREAS of life, reflected in Jesus’ temptations, is our need to be valued.

But there is a fine line between a healthy self image or self esteem and an ego trip

Our need to be valued can so often become a lust for power – however we might want to disguise it.

It is something many of us crave for deep down.

We want to be in charge – in some form or other.

And the temptation comes to us to do this directly or by manipulation, rather than being invited by God to “come up higher”

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.

“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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