Summary: As sermon about saying "no" to self and "yes" to God.
“You Can be so Great!”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
Lisa went for a long walk in the woods.
It had been an exhausting 6 months, and she needed time to think.
She had worked so hard on the campaign.
Ever since her party had told her, to her surprise, that they wanted her to be their candidate, she had been overwhelmed by the honor both of running for office and serving her people, her country, her world!
All her noble ideals had been smiling at her…
…beckoning her that she was now going to be able to achieve them.
Her one thought had been: “Get elected, and at last you’ll be able to change the world! To make things better. To turn things around.”
Then there were the last frantic days of the campaign.
Touring the area, shaking hands, making speeches, late-night sessions with the party workers, snatching a bit of sleep, too much coffee, more speeches, more handshakes.
And finally the election!!!
She still couldn’t believe it!
She had won by a landslide.
They had wanted her.
They had chosen her.
This was her day, and it was sweet!
But she needed space to think, reflect, work it all through.
Hence, the walk in the woods by herself.
She was shocked by what she discovered!!!
The ideals were still there—the dreams of service, of changing the world.
But what were these other voices?
“Now at last,” they whispered, “you’ve got a chance to make some real money. Lot’s of businesses will want you on their board, to lobby for them.
You can name your price.
This is just the first rung on the ladder,” said the voices.
“If you play your cards right, if you don’t make a fuss about too many things, and get to know the right people, you could be Governor, or even President!”
“You can have fame and popularity…
…press conferences and t-v appearances…”
What was happening?
Where were those voices coming from?
But there was more.
“Think what you could do now,” the voices whispered.
“That party activist you’ve never liked—you could get rid of him.
You’ve got power.
And you’ll have more.
The world is your chessboard.
Go ahead and play the game your way!”
This is a fictional story, of course, but it illustrates, a bit, how temptation works.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in every possible way.
And these temptations were all ways of distorting His true vocation: the vocation to be a truly human being, to be God’s person, to be a servant to the world and to other people.
If there had been any doubt about Jesus being truly human, this dispels it…
…Jesus shared our flesh and blood.
From the human sense, Jesus was the descendant of Adam, as we all are, and He must now face not only what Adam faced but also the powers that had been unleashed through human rebellion and sin.
Long years of habitual rebellion against God has brought about a situation in which the world, the flesh and the devil had become used to twisting human beings into whatever shape they wanted!
Satan is the essence of everything that is against God.
If God loves us more than we can imagine; Satan hates us more than we can imagine…
…for the very sake that we are God’s beloved!
When we look in the Bible we see that it’s the devil who is behind human disease and suffering.
It is Satan who seduces Judas.
It is the devil whom we must fight.
It is the devil whose power is broken by the work of Christ.
It is the devil who is destined for final destruction.
Satan is the power which is against God!
God the Father was telling Jesus, in essence, “Take my love to men and women; love them till you die for them; save them by this unconquerable love even if You finish by hanging on a Cross!”
Satan was saying to Jesus, in essence, “Use Your power to blast men and women; obliterate your enemies; win the world by might and power and bloodshed.”
God said to Jesus, “Set up a reign of love.”
Satan said, “Set up a dictatorship of force.”
The three temptations we read about in our Scripture for this evening are plausible, attractive, and make, as we would say, a lot of sense.
God can’t want God’s beloved Son to be famished with hunger, can He?
If God wants Jesus to become sovereign over the world, then why not go for it the easy way?
Why not prove it by spectacular displays of power?
It’s kind of like the tempting song sung by Simon the Zealot in Jesus Christ Superstar,
“Christ, what more do you need to convince you