Sermon Insights: Matthew 4:1-11

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a sermon insights because I’ve had a ton of other stuff on my plate. As we come up on Christmas this week, though, I wanted to make sure that I got at least one post in so that everyone knew what was coming up this week. So here we go.

As we continue our Advent of Hope series, we have already talked about the hope which Jesus’ incarnation introduces for us in the areas of broken relationships, finances, and current events. This week, we turn our attention to a more spiritual matter as we consider the hope which He brings for those of us struggling with temptation and sin. Of course, as long as you’re human, you can expect to be in this boat, so this Sunday’s message is truly applicable to every one of us. But what kind of hope can we take for our struggle with temptation and sin from a man who never sinned at all? On the surface of it, it seems that such a discussion can be only counterproductive!

In Matthew 4:1-11, though, all of that changed. If Jesus had merely worn the appearance of a man, His message to be perfect and sin no more would have been pretty hollow. Here, though, Jesus actually experienced His own temptation. Did He endure the exact same temptations that we all face each and every day? Of course not. But which two of us do experience the exact same temptations? Rather, Satan custom-tailored Jesus’ temptation to his target and let loose with everything he had.

After 40 days alone in the desert with no food, Satan tempted Jesus first to satisfy His own hunger. Oh, how easy it would have been for Jesus to command those rocks to turn into bread! But Jesus knew that, if He took this upon Himself now, He would be irreparably compromising the trust which He had in His Father to take care of Him. Was it easy? Absolutely not! Yet Jesus declined.

After 30 years of life as a simple carpenter, there was no denying that it would be an uphill battle to convince the world that Jesus was the messiah. And considering that Luke tells us the reason He would leave Nazareth in verse 13 was that His own neighbors there tried to kill Him, there could have been no better time for Satan to tempt Jesus to take a shortcut and reveal Himself to be the Son of God by hurling Himself from the temple mount and lighting in the temple courts unscathed. There would have been no denying Jesus’ supernatural abilities then! Yet Jesus knew that, if He saved Himself from all the diffiulties ahead, there would be no way to have the relationship He desired with those who would instantly be His subjects. Was it expedient? In no way! But He again refused.

It was ironic when Satan took the Son of God and executive of creation to a mountain peak and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would only bow and worship him. But considering that Jesus knew that the people who He had created would reject and kill Him in just a few short months, and it would be thousands of years before He would take His rightful place over all the nations, there was some real temptation here. Take what’s yours, right now, and avoid all the trouble to come. How easy it would have been! But Jesus knew that, if He assumed the throne this day, there would be no one left to save on the Last Day. Was it tough? You bet it was! Still, Jesus said no.

The temptations which Jesus faced were undeniably real. So He understands what it is to be tempted. That’s cool for me, but what I think is probably even more important here is how Jesus succeeded. It would have been one thing if He had snapped His fingers, turned Satan into a bug, and then squashed him. But He knew that we wouldn’t be able to do that. Instead, He used the exact same weapons that we have at our disposal. Most significantly, He used Scripture.

Now, it should be noted that Satan used Scripture here, too, but Jesus was keen to the fact that Satan was twisting God’s word to suit his own purposes. And He was quick to wield a Biblical response to counter every temptation. Using the word of God as the sword of the Spirit, Jesus deflated every one of Satan’s prompts. And in the end, Satan was left dejected and defeated.

We can defeat temptation and sin. Jesus didn’t come to this world to teach us how to live with sin. He came to show us that we can live above – that is, without – sin. And you know what? When Satan is all over me, making me feel bad for stuff I’ve done in the past or tempting me to falter in the now, that’s something I will hope in!


1 Response to “Sermon Insights: Matthew 4:1-11”

  1. 1 Barry Eichelberger December 22, 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Preconceived notions are sometimes the hardest ideas to overcome. Jesus came as the Messiah, and yet did not fit anyone’s idea of who Messiah should be. This is the constant struggle we have with our mental image of God – He is not whom we think He should be! He is so much more than that, but we can not seem to get past our puny idea of Him.

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