Under the Influence
Under the Influence
1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; 11 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 12 Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Reflect for a moment in your mind this morning times that the Holy Spirit has led you after he moved intensely in your life. Think about times possibly in the church that you attended times of supernatural outpouring. Now tell me: how many of those memories were times that mirror Luke's account of this story? I’m willing to bet you that few, if even one memory has impressed your mind as a leading of God’s spirit in a way like this.
I’ve heard and possibly even read sermons on this portion of scripture that used this scene as a metaphor or as a word picture of something spiritual in nature. I’d like you to stay with me through this in real time; sort of like a play-by-play event. Recreate this time of Jesus being, Under the Influence…
Jesus was God in the flesh; Immanuel; the only begotten Son of God; King of kings, and Lord of lords; Life; Light; the Word; the Beginning. And this historical account of Jesus’ life begins with him being full of the Spirit!! What a marvelous way to begin ministry. Jesus was focused from an early age to learning and understanding scripture, of being about the Father’s business and understanding his culture and lifestyle. Jesus was the original superhero. His only weakness, if you can call it that, was and still is love. Here, he begins ministry with an open proclamation by God and with the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. And then he’s led.
This leading by the Spirit of God, though, brings Jesus into a desert where, for 40 days, he eats nothing. To top it off, he is frequented by the Devil himself with the motives of temptation. What a glorious time of Spiritual infilling and power! Haven’t you spent sleepless nights asking God to bring such a wonderful experience to you?
There’s something here I want to interject that is critical for you to know: Satan’s only foothold in your life is the one you allow. He can’t make you do anything. His attack is against those things he deems weak after careful study of your habits and actions. Those things that he reads as weakness may even only be because we are human. Realize that demons, who are rebellious angels that fell with Lucifer, have remained the same crew (same number) since the uprising. Demons have not increased in number. The only thing they have on you is generations of experience in the art of manipulation, deception and destruction.
Fasting is a tough road to plow in the natural. Have you ever tried it? You fight within yourself to eat. That’s a natural desire and need. You fight within yourself not to make a spectacle of it, because if you openly claim you are fasting or complain about it, you lose your reward from God the Father. Jesus instructed us to wash our faces, anoint our heads and not allow anyone to know when you fast. I’ve asked you to fast a couple of times now, but not to show anything of myself, but because I felt we needed to solemnly seek God together. You fight headaches (which occur because of the toxins being consumed in your body), you fight cravings, you fight emotional and mental roller coasters. Sometimes you even fight whether you’ve heard from God about fasting in the first place.
Jesus was a man. He needed nourishment to sustain life. His mind, emotions and body were at odds as he drew close to the end of this time. If ever there was a weak moment, this had to be one of the most opportune. But something you must see is that the Devil did not pop in and just throw these three statements at Jesus without first planting seeds of doubt and humanity over the course of days and weeks. We have no details of what happened through those 40 days except the temptations, but be sure through this time, Jesus was hand in hand with Father God. Though we have no details, we see the evidence in Jesus’ actions and words. Jesus was under the influence of a power not of this world. Though humanly weak in body, this man, this only child of God, was strong where it counted.
Enter Satan for the climax of this desert experience. The “ifs” that are recorded here represent a conditional statement. The original texts in Greek show the leniency of Satan to question Jesus’ claim as God’s son. I find that many times we question just as Satan did. If you are a Christian, if you are really a preacher/pastor, if you have a gift, if you really prayed, if you had faith, etc. Satan knew that Jesus was weak and his thoughts were struggling as a man. Though you have great clarity in the midst of a fast, you still have internal battles that threaten your focus.
#1 Turn this stone into bread. I know you have physical needs. I know that your bodily desire is to obtain nourishment. Forget all this fasting stuff and take care of yourself. You have to have it!!! Grab hold of the authority of scripture that Jesus used. Man shall not live by bread alone. The lust of the flesh. It is real and it is justified within ourselves. We do not live for ourselves, but for God and his purpose. We must take authority over the flesh, and it’s only going to happen using God’s word.
#2 Look at the kingdoms of this world I can give you, only bow your knee to me. We typically don’t see this today as an in-your-face request. This temptation for us comes through promotion at a job, or public notoriety, or the chasing of things. The lust of the eye. Jesus knew that his proper place would one day be as Lord over all creation, and he would bring peace to mankind and the earth. This was a shortcut for him to receive all of this without giving his life, or so Satan wanted him to think. But though things may seem easier than expected, or more quickly received than planned, they are probably not being offered without cost. Jesus was to ransom all of God’s creation through sacrifice, after which he would assume authority and rule. There was a reason why Jesus came and many reasons why it had to be done in the proper manner. Worship the Lord your God and serve him only. There are two choices, that are not so much on the surface here, and Jesus was under the right influence to acknowledge who his God was.
#3 Jump off the roof of this temple, because God won’t allow you harm. The priests and learned men and women at the temple would have seen this spectacle and been at awe. Those who were passers-by or offering sacrifice would have instantly believed. He would have been the real-deal Houdini or Criss Angel of his day. There would have been natural urgings by the masses for Jesus to recreate or even perform greater feats of magic. Jesus would have been a circus freak. He would have been loved. He would have been criticized. But love and sacrifice would not have been easily expressed by such a performer.
How often do we throw at God an “if you love me”, or “if your word is true”. Herein lies the greatest shortcoming of society today. The pride of life. We deserve God’s love. Better yet, he deserves my praise. I can do this, or I will do that. We come into church week after week, and are not affected by his Spirit. We sit and judge others for their actions or non-actions without ever glancing at our own faults or shortcomings. I believe that when Jesus made the statement that two would be in the field, with one being taken and the other left, this is precisely why. We are so prideful that we stand on our high-horse and make demands. We have pastors who are gods in themselves that walk right alongside God himself and advise Him what to do. We have deacons, elders and trustees in churches who believe the world revolves around them. We have congregations who have a Burger King mentality when they are in the house of God. It’s time today that we turn away from the junk of this world and our own pridefulness and seek the will of the God whom this is all about!!! God, take away any pride in my life!!! Let me focus on your plan and your will. Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall (Having or showing arrogant superiority to and disdain of those one views as unworthy.) Don’t test God!! It’s one thing to ask God for a fleece. It’s an entirely different thing to tell God what he’s going to do to prove himself. You don’t pick up deadly snakes because the Bible says they won’t harm you.
Three temptations that encompass sin. One source that overcomes them all. You choose whom you will call God. You choose who’s influence you will remain under. Jesus was a passionate servant. What are you?