Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 2
Thesis: Jesus met the first part of the temptation with the resolute conviction that "Life" is not about physical well-being.
Introduction: Correction of last week's study: the Israelites did not approach the promised land the first time from the east and come to the Jordan. This error on my part is regretable and I offer my apologies for the mistake.
Last week we attempted to show that Jesus was in the wilderness to face the devil because God's Holy Spirit led Him there. We made two claims on the weight of this fact: first, that the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit never automatically mean that we are going to have a pleasant experience; and, second, that if our present experience is exceedingly difficult, that reality has nothing to say about whether we are filled with the Spirit or not. In other words, the Holy Spirit is not about producing a life of ease for us, nor is He necessarily absent when our experiences are significantly stressful. The key issue is whether we have a clear conscience before God, or not.
Now, this morning, we are going to look into the actual temptation of Jesus so that we may see that He is a qualified Redeemer.
July 2, 2006
- I. The Temptation to Turn Stones to Bread.
- A. The physical problem.
- 1. Jesus had been fasting for forty days.
- 2. He was not what most people think of when they think of being "hungry".
- a. Most people think of hunger in terms of a "feeling in their body that is insistent upon getting some food".
- 1) The problem with this thinking about "hunger" is that it often has nothing to do with needing food.
- 2) The fixation of this thinking about "hunger" is that it arises out of a very basic assumption that "if I feel a need, I have a right to do what I can to meet it."
- a) According to Philippians 3:19, there is a significant danger in this mindset.
- b) According to 1 Corinthians 6:13, there is a significant need to be very much aware of the "lordship" which physical appetites attempt to exercise over us.
- c) According to 1 Corinthians 9:27, no one can maintain a legitimate spirituality who does do put his "body" in its place.
- d) And, according to 1 Corinthians 15:32, the willingness to be dominated by physical appetites is anti-resurrection thinking.
- b. Jesus was probably not "feeling" anything in His stomach; He was, rather, very much aware that He was very close to death.
- c. The "hunger" that Jesus was "feeling" was a very potent insistence, arising out of something far deeper than His body, that He do whatever He needed to do to stop the progress toward death.
- B. The devil's attack.
- 1. Began with an "identity" issue.
- a. Luke told us in 1:35 that one of the reasons for Jesus' birth by a virgin was that He would, by that method, be known as the "Son of God".
- 1) This was a second statement.
- 2) The first was 1:32 where He was to be known as the "Son of the Highest".
- b. The "deceptive slanderer" approached this issue with a deliberately hidden "agenda".
- 1) He, himself, believed (and still believes) that being "the Highest God" is fundamentally being the person who has the right to "execute power" to impose his will upon others.
- a) For the devil, "God" means "Executor of Power", just like Genesis says.
- b) For the devil, "God" means that the execution of power is for the purpose of forcing the "will of God" upon others no matter whether they like it or not, and, more fundamentally, whether their lives are genuinely improved or not.
- c) Because the devil cannot even conceive of permitting another's true interests to determine what will be done, or not, he does not believe that God is any different than he is.
- 2) He does, however, know that he has little chance of winning in his struggle to obtain the "throne of God" as long as the Father, the Son, and the Spirit remain united against him.
- 3) Thus, his agenda was to generate a division between the Son and the Father and His Spirit.
- a) For the devil, being the "Son of God" means exactly what the Bible claims it means: He is the mirror-image of the God Who imposes His will upon others.
- b) So, to be a "son" is to be free to exercise power of God, which means "to force one's will upon others".
- c) If he could get Jesus to satisfy His hunger to stay alive in the face of the obvious fact that the "leading" of the Spirit of God, and the "refusal of the Father" to provide food, was gradually destroying Him, he would have driven the wedge between the members of the Triune Opponent and would have some hope of success against Him.
- 2. Culminated with a most reasonable suggestion.
- a. What could possibly be "wrong" with exercising one's own power to simply "stay alive"?
- 1) Wasn't it absolutely fundamental to Jesus' understanding of the will of God that He was to stay alive?
- 2) Wasn't it beyond obvious that if He continued to expect "food" from God, when He could provide it for Himself, He would die?
- a) Has not God given us a "brain" so we can do what we need to do?
- b) Will God not be offended if we refuse to use our abilities to do what we need to do to have what we need to have?
- b. Since when does "being led by the Spirit" mean expecting Him to do everything for you?
- 1) Everyone knows the tension between acting for one's own interests and waiting upon God to provide for those interests.
- 2) Not everyone has the answers Jesus had.
- II. Jesus' Response.
- A. Arose from a comprehensive grasp of the written word of God..."It stands written...".
- 1. First, a comprehensive grasp means that Jesus knew the truth about the Father (Luke 11:11).
- 2. Second, a comprehensive grasp means that Jesus knew the truth about the Spirit and His leading (He never, ever, leads contrary to the Word of God).
- 3. Third, a comprehensive grasp means that Jesus knew which texts of that Word applied to His situation.
- a. There are many biblical texts which are fundamentally "Messianic" and their meaning relates only to Messiah (note the one the devil used in 4:10-11, coming from Psalm 91:11-12).
- b. There was no significant confusion in Jesus' mind regarding the way Truth was to be applied to His circumstances.
- B. Arose from a fundamental grasp of the true source(s) of "Life".
- 1. In the first place, He knew that "Life" is a multi-tiered reality with a very real heirarchy of values that puts the body dead last in that order of values.
- 2. In the second place, He knew that, no matter what the pressure is, there is "death in the pot" which gives place to any pressure that "juggles" Life's heirarchy of values.
- 3. In the third place, He knew that His Father was not about to permit Him to die -- no matter what the "appearance" might be -- until He had accomplished the Redemption of the people of God.
- III. Our Conclusion.
- A. It is beyond obvious that we have neither the comprehensive grasp of the Scriptures that "Life" requires, nor the strength of conviction to maintain the heirarchy of values that "Life" requires.
- B. Thus, it should be beyond obvious that if we are to "live", we will only do it by being "redeemed".
- 1. Our sins must be forgiven.
- 2. Our weakness must be exchanged.
- C. Jesus is our Kinsman-Redeemer, a man Who never allowed a physical appetite to "get in control" even briefly.