Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 1 Study # 4
Thesis: "Trusting" God is most difficult when the issue is that of the "spirit".
Introduction: Luke's point in the first thirteen verses of chapter four is that Jesus is qualified to be our Kinsman Redeemer because He did not succumb to any of the three areas of our sinful failures. He can be the One to Redeem us from all of our sins because He, though being of the same "stuff" as we, did not sin. In the words of Hebrews 2:17, "...it behooved Him in all things to be made like unto His brethren, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succor them that are tempted" (ASV).
So far in our study, we have seen how the devil attempted to capitalize upon the weakness of Jesus' physical body and the typical, human "fear of death", and how he attempted to capitalize upon the typical, human "fear of the loss of 'control'". He questioned the legitimacy of refraining from using one's own power to provide for one's own "hunger", and he offered the ability to "be in control" of the entire inhabited earth.
This morning we are going to turn to Luke's record of the "final" challenge. Anyone who studies the records of the contest between Jesus and the devil is aware of the fact that Matthew puts the three "tests" in a different order than is found here in Luke. For Matthew, it was of the greatest significance that Jesus refused the "control" issue -- so he recorded it as the climax of his record. But, for Luke, it is of the greatest significance that Jesus did not succumb to the challenge to "prove" the words of God are true. The difference existed in the hearts and minds of the authors, not in some "confusion" of the "historicity" of the events. Authors are not compelled to record events in the order they actually occurred unless they claim such an "order". Thematic selectivity is a recognized "authorial right", and both Matthew and Luke had the freedom to exercise it. Matthew, who had been "into" control issues most of his life as a lost man, was driven to present Jesus as a "trustworthy non-controller" who could give "controllers" rest in their souls. Luke, on the other hand, was more "into" standing firm on the word of God (see 1:1-4), and felt that Jesus' demonstration of the difference between "trusting" God and "using God's words as a lever for self-promotion" was most critical for the spirit of man. So, this morning we are going to look into this business of "trusting" the words of God rather than "using" them for personal status issues.
July 16, 2006
- I. The Setting of the Third Temptation.
- A. In Luke's record, it comes on the heels of Jesus' claim that He would not "worship" or "serve" anyone but Yahweh Elohim.
- 1. This was, at the root of it, a claim to an irreversible, fundamental loyalty to Yahweh Elohim.
- 2. This significantly antagonized the devil.
- a. The devil was the first to decide that Yahweh Elohim was not "worthy" of "worship" and "service".
- b. Jesus' refusal to acknowledge the "legitimacy" of his decision grated upon him because it is a basic characteristic of the ego-maniac to be strongly antagonized when he is shown to be in the wrong.
- 3. This motivated the devil to attempt to prove that Jesus was an "empty-headed fool", or, worse, a "pretender" to irreversible loyalty to Yahweh Elohim.
- a. He did not, for one minute, believe that Jesus actually had a totally unselfish loyalty to His Father.
- 1) Those without loyalty never believe that others will be loyal.
- 2) The devil is convinced that Jesus is no "better" then he is.
- b. He did, though, at least for a few minutes, believe that he could "show Jesus up as a spiritual fraud".
- B. It involves a subtilty that is not lost on the "spirit of man".
- 1. Both Jerusalem and the Temple were extremely potent symbols of the issues of "worship" and "service".
- a. Jerusalem is "the city of the great King" (Psalm 48:2 and Matthew 5:35)...core-central to the issue of "service".
- b. The Temple is the dwelling place of the Most High God...core-central to the issue of "worship".
- 2. For Jesus to be taken by the devil to both places seems to indicate a certain "freedom" possessed by the devil of "access" to any place he chooses to go.
- 3. For Jesus to be placed "above" the Temple in Jerusalem is a potent symbol of exactly what is at stake: Who is going to be "above" you?
- C. It involves the teaching of the Word of God concerning man's value in His eyes.
- 1. The devil's "quote" was from Psalm 91, a psalm that is all about God's watchful care over the One who shows Him true loyalty.
- 2. The devil's "interpretation" of the text was that one can, and should, deliberately put the words to the test.
- a. There is, beneath this "interpretation", an assumption of "falsity" -- it is the devil's position that "everyone has their price"; including God.
- b. Given that assumption, it is both logical and necessary to "force" the issue of any promises of loyalty -- by anyone.
- D. It involves a "catch-22" situation.
- 1. Either Jesus would cast Himself off of a place high enough to kill Him when He hit the ground--to prove the words were true.
- 2. Or Jesus would refuse to "count on" the truth of the words--and prove that He was all talk and no "do".
- II. Jesus' Response.
- A. He quoted from Deuteronomy 6:16, which is a warning that is rooted in Exodus 17.
- B. The issues in Exodus 17 were the same as Jesus' situation.
- 1. The "leading" of God had brought about a difficult situation.
- 2. The "promises" of God were brought into "challenge" (Exodus 17:7).
- 3. The temptation was to attempt to "force" God to prove His Word is true.
- C. Jesus' response was completely different from the children of Israel.
- 1. First, He did not "whine" and "threaten force".
- 2. Second, He did not succumb to the pressure of the "catch-22" issue.
- a. He was not afraid of physical death.
- b. He was not afraid of the scoffing accusation that He was not really "trusting".
- 3. Third, He wisely understood the real issues.
- a. "Trusting" the words of God is not about "trying to force them to come into play".
- b. "Trusting" the words of God is about relying on them as one goes about the details of "worship" and "service".
- c. The difference is...
- 1) Snake handlers deliberately put themselves at risk -- forcing the issue -- when the promise (Luke 10:19) has to do with the kind of thing that happened to Paul after the shipwreck of Acts 28...if it has anything to do with the current era.
- 2) Church leaders deliberately put the congregation at risk borrowing large sums of money to chase their own agendas -- forcing the issue -- when the promise of God is that He will provide for everything He wishes to be done.
- 3) Believers who are going about the King's business can rely on His promises without trying to "prove" His words are true because He will always do exactly like He said He would...and they do not feel any intimidation from those who would accuse them of not really "believing" because they refuse to "take the bait".