Sermon #2 Tempting
Tempting. Isn’t it?
(MT 4:1 – 11, 17)
Pastor David H. Nielsen
Christ Ministry Church
Jesus’ temptation as described by Matthew in chapter four verses one to eleven lasted for forty days and forty nights. This brings to mind other events as described in the Old Testament such as Israel’s 40 years of wandering in the desert. It also brings to mind the importance of Moses and the great prophet Elijah (Ex 24:18, 34:28, 1Ki 19:8). Moses twice spends forty days and nights with God on the mountain, and the second time he does so, he does it without bread or water just like our Lord as described in our message today. Elijah, the great prophet, after eating and drinking to gain strength, he traveled forty days and nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. Jesus now appears to be Israel’s new representative like Moses and Elijah were in the past (Mt 1:1, 2:15).
Israel was given lots of laws and commands while in the dessert. They were tested by God. We see this in the book of Deuteronomy chapter eight and verses two and three. We must pay close attention to other verses in this book since they are the words of Scripture that our Lord uses to defend Himself against the devil (Deu 6:13, 16, 8:3).
Jesus definitely appears here at His greatest temptation at the beginning of His ministry as a new Moses, the giver of a new law (Mt 5:1 -2). Let’s look at the three main temptations illustrated for us at the beginning of chapter 4 in the book of Matthew.
- Hunger – Change stones into bread. The devil needed Jesus to conform to contemporary expectations of Him. This means that Jesus needed to be a Messiah only in human terms. So by getting Jesus to act like the local magicians of the day and perform magic, this would make Him on the same level as normal human beings without His divinity. Jesus however, recalls Deuteronomy 8:3 which he cites thus depending on God alone, the highest authority to provide his need of food. This sets Jesus higher then any human contemporary.
- Tempting God – Her the devil tempts Jesus by playing a game of words by taking scripture out of context. In this case it is Psalm 91:11 – 12; verse 10 of the same psalm makes clear that God’s angelic protection is for events that befall His servants and not an excuse for His servants to seek out these dangers to test God’s Word. Jesus again relies on Scripture citing Deut.6:16. The devil, Satan, knows Scripture well. The Jewish priests knew that Satan was a great deceiver and he would twist Scripture around and out of context. This is a good example of him doing it.
- Wealth of the World – Again the devil tempts by distorting facts. Satan does not own any kingdoms or riches of the world to give. God owns everything because He created it and it belongs to Him. So nothing is Satan’s to give. The best he could give would be political human control over kingdoms, much like the Jewish concept of the Messiah was. They wanted and waited for a Messiah who was a great military leader and politician to restore Israel to the greatest nation. This was not Jesus’ job as Messiah. It was much greater and higher a task. The devil hoped he could make Jesus only a man instead of a Supernatural Man/God that He was. The conqueror of sin, death, the devil, and the way to eternal life. Again Jesus recognizes this and cites Deut.6:13 which prohibit idolatry. Jesus shows His ultimate authority and commands the devil to leave Him.
We are told in verse 11 that Satan left Him and angels appeared and attended to Jesus. What a great reward God gave His Son!
Matthew 4:17 states that “From that time on Jesus began to preach: Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”.
Jesus left us with rich accurate teachings. He used great symbolism from the Old Testament Scriptures by actually copying them so that we could understand His importance in the New Testament. He shows us, and mostlyt the Jewish people; that he is one of extreme importance like Moses and Elijah the two great prophets that the Jews lived by. Also, we later can see their prominence when Jesus transfigure Himself on the mountain in front of Peter, James, and John, and Moses and Elijah appear with Him (Mt 17:1 – 3).
Jesus is trying to grab the attention of the Jewish people. He is working to show us that He is the true Messiah, but not in the way that humans think. His message is repentance, baptism, forgiveness of sins, faith in Him, and eternal life. These things are far greater than the temporary things here on this earth.
Jesus steadfastly prepared Himself for His three years of ministry by giving us the supreme example as to what all new Christians should do. He was baptized and then led by the Spirit to pray and learn from God. At the same time He was tempted, not just 3 times, but for all of the 40 days and nights He spent in the dessert praying and fasting. Here He shows us that He was no different then the rest of us. He was as human as you or I. Being human meant being tempted just like you and I are every day and night. In the story of His temptation though, Jesus shows us how we can conquer it in the three examples He cites in Matthew chapter 4 verses 1 to 11. It is by His continual prayer (which gets interrupted by temptation) and by knowing the Scriptures. What better way to defeat temptation and the devil then by God’s Word the Bi ble? There is none. By His, Jesus’ example we see that we can even command Satan to leave us in Jesus’ name. Prayer and the Bible (Scripture) are our two most powerful allies against temptation. Paul states that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.l But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that yo can stand up under it” (1 Cor 10:13).
Use prayer and the Bible; God’s Word. He will not fail you; especially if you are a new Christian. Satan will try to attack you in all ways because of your lack of knowledge. Stand firm though in prayer with God and read the Scriptures. Grow in Christ to be mature Christians so that you are prepared to preach and defend your faith, to bring the Good News that you have been given to others. Jesus never turned back or side to side after those 40 days and nights of being tempted and praying. He moved forward to His cross and ultimate Glory by defeating sin, the devil, and receiving His reward of everlasting life and His church of all who believe and follow Him. God has placed everything under Him.
What do you believe? Who or what do you follow? Perhaps you have questions about sin, baptism, forgiveness, faith, and Jesus. Maybe you would like to be a Christian but you don’t know how. Or maybe you think you are a Christian but aren’t sure. It’s not hard to become one. Maybe you just need to straighten your life out or to share with us something that’s bothering you. Don’t wait. I urge you now, to come up front while we listen to the next song and sare with me your problem or concern so we can all pray for you; maybe even baptize you. There is nothing to fear in God’s love. You might need to speak with me alone or even need help in becoming a mature Christian. Whatever you need is, feel free to either come up front now or approach me after service so we can talk. Think through this as we meditate on this next song. It may be the most important decision of you life!