Faithlife Sermons

Fully Human

Lent 1 2018  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Matthew 4:1–11 NASB95
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will command His angels concerning You’; and On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
One of the key doctrines of the Christian faith has always insisted on the fact that Jesus was a true and complete human being. The gospels take this for granted and later writings of the New Testament back this. The letter to the Hebrews tells us explicitly that he was completely like us in all things, including being tempted to sin (.), and that he learned obedience to God through suffering ().
When we realize Jesus was a man we have to realize:

Jesus Had a Human Body

Born as a baby and grew. He became tired just as we do. He became thirsty. he became hungry.

Jesus Had a Human Mind

Luke tells us he increased in wisdom (2:52). He learned how to eat, talk, read and write. He learned these things as he grew like any other person.

Jesus Had a Human Soul

Just before he was crucified he said, “Now my soul is troubled.” John tells us he was troubled in his spirit.

Jesus Had Human Emotions

Jesus had a full range of human emotions. He marveled at the faith of the centurion. He wept when his friend Lazarus died. He prayed with loud cries and tears.
The people who walked with Jesus saw him as a man. They had a hard time seeing him as God. We are just the opposite. We have not problem seeing him as God, but we have a hard time imagining him as a man who walked and talked and lived among us.
When we hear today’s narrative of the temptations of Christ, we shouldn’t assume that we are dealing with an account of a single isolated event in Jesus’ life, that was undergone once and then finished forever. It makes more sense to think that this passage summarizes the temptations that must have assailed Jesus throughout his life, and even to its end on the cross.
Matthew’s presents Jesus as the man who overcomes temptation and because of this he is able to serve as the instrument of salvation. The setting of the scene in the desert, the use of the number forty, and the explicit citations from the book of Deuteronomy all invite a comparison of Jesus with the people of Israel, tempted during the forty years in the desert after the flight from Egypt. The difference here is that unlike the Israelites, Jesus is victorious in the trial.
Naturally, the temptations themselves, as recounted here, have a symbolic dimension that applies both to Jesus and to his followers.

The First Temptation - Stones to Bread

Matthew 4:1–4 NASB95
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”
Bread is the basic sustainer of life; for Jesus to provide bread for himself by a miracle would be to refuse to depend radically on the Father’s care. There are those who see our relationship with God primarily as a means of giving us power over life, of providing for our own or others’ needs and wants. Some might call this a health and wealth gospel, one that only cares about What’s in it for me. The gospel reveals this as temptation, one that Jesus rejects throughout his life. In John’s gospel we are told that after the miracle of the loaves, the people wanted to make Jesus king (), but he fled from them. In our passage, we see he rejects the temptation to use his spiritual gifts to attain earthly power. He rejects the temptation to sustain himself and instead chooses to be nourished by God’s word. God is not a means, but He is the very goal of life itself. This is not to deny the importance of bread, nor God’s involvement in our wellbeing; but faith seeks God’s kingdom first, and is confident that everything else will follow from God’s loving care (cf. ). Jesus would teach his disciples to pray first, “Thy kingdom come …,” and then after that, to ask for daily bread. We must also learn to reject temptation and live in dependence on the Father.

The Second Temptation - The Supernatural

Matthew 4:5–7 NASB95
5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will command His angels concerning You’; and On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
The second temptation also centers on a misunderstanding of how God’s power works in the world. It is the religious temptation to expect God to intervene in extraordinary ways, to perform miracles, to provide “proofs”; above all, to protect us from danger and suffering. God can and does work this way, but to demand of God extraordinary signs, to center your religion on miraculous deliverance, is to reject the idea that God’s love can be found no matter what our human condition is. When we do this we set our own way above God’s plan for salvation; it is to seek to avoid the cross. Sometimes it is in our suffering that we experience God the greatest. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays to be delivered from his impending passion; yet he accepts the Father’s will. He is not supernaturally protected from suffering and death; yet he retains his trust in God.
The lesson we can take from this is that we may have to endure suffering. There may be no supernatural healing or deliverance. This doesn’t mean we are doing it wrong or that our faith is weak. It means we are human. And it means we have to trust in God, either way.

The Third Temptation - Idolatry

Matthew 4:8–11 NASB95
8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ” 11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
Jesus’ rejected the third temptation—which was to worship something other than God, for the sake of worldly success and riches—this echoes themes pronounced throughout his ministry. He tells his disciples that they cannot serve two masters (), and that their treasure must be in heaven (). He emphasizes the danger of riches (). True greatness, he proclaims, is in becoming like a child (): that is, powerless, lowly, humble in the eyes of the world.
Jesus’ response to these temptations is meant to be a model for us. They are a model for how to handle temptation and a reminder of what is really important. As we approach Easter and we think about the Passion of Christ, his dying on the cross for us, it is important we remember and grasp the human side of Jesus.
He knows the temptations we experience. He has heard the call of the devil to turn away from God. When our temptations come we need to remember our savior who loves us has walked where we have walked and relying on God and the Word of God he was victorious. We need to know the Word of God so well it just rolls off our lips when the devil whispers in our ears.
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