Jesus Tempted / Sermon / Lent 1 March 9, 2014 / Matthew 4:1-11 / Pastor Ted Giese
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Matthew 4:1-11 / Lent 1 March 9th 2014 / Jesus Tempted
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But He answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple 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,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to Him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to Him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and Him only shall you serve.’”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him.
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. In Israel, not far from the city of Jericho, in the Judean desert, we drove past a location that people believe is the place where Jesus was staying in the wilderness those 40 days in which He was tempted by Satan. It's a massive mountain with caves and on it there are now two finished monasteries and one incomplete Russian Orthodox monastery up on the summit of the mountain. The summit of the mountain is about 360 metres above sea level and is said to offer a amazing panoramic view of the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and the mountains of Moab and Gilead. You could climb up or go in a tram car, we only stopped to take a picture.
People have thought for a very long time that this very mountain, now called the Mount of the Temptation, is in fact the mountain on which Jesus was tempted, the place in the wilderness where Jesus was tempted. Well is it? Maybe ... or maybe it was the mountain next to that mountain? A friend of mine Rev. Sye Van Maanan, Pastor of Riverbend Lutheran Church in Edmonton Alberta, who was a military reserve chaplain to the 20th Field Battery of the Royal Canadian Artillery sometimes would say that old adage that I'm sure you've heard before: "Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades." Hang onto that thought for just a minute. Another friend of mine a Pastor who you may also remember Rev. Mike Keith, who was pastor at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Fort Qu'Appelle and who is now pastor at my childhood congregation of St. Matthew Luther Church in Stony Plain Alberta had been to the Holy Land a couple of years ago and he commented on this sort of thing by saying ... and I paraphrase, "Here's the spot where Jesus was baptized ... no here's the spot - here's the spot where Jesus' tomb was ... no here's the spot, either way it's close, Israel's not such a big place ... especially not for Canadians." From top to bottom Israel is 424 kilometres, to put that in some perspective Saskatoon to Estevan is 438 kilometres. When you're in the Holy land you are seeing the same landscape and walking the same ground that Jesus walked in His life both before and after His crucifixion. So "Close only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades," well maybe "close" counts in the Holy Land too, but we as Christians have something better than close.
Which leads us back to the Mount of Temptation. Is that the exact place where Jesus was tempted? We don't really 100% know, but we do 100% know that immediately after His baptism "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." And we do 100% know that "after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry." why do we know this? Because we can trust God's Word and it is in Holy Scripture that we are told that Jesus went through this experience.
The Epistle of James says "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." This account in the Bible is about these two things:
1) "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" The Gospel of Matthew chapter 4 is about Jesus facing temptations, facing the temptations of the devil, and succeeding - the best part of this is knowing that Jesus succeeded in resisting temptations where we fail and that because of His success we can turn to Him for forgiveness because He remained without sin, and in His perpetual Holiness, He forgives our sin when we buckle under temptation, ask and you shall receive it. The Gospel of Matthew chapter 4 is evidence that Jesus went sinless to the cross. At the cross He took on your failures in the face of temptation, He took on your sins, and at the cross your sin died with Jesus - but three days later your sin did not arise with Jesus in His resurrected body: On that first Easter morning your sin stayed dead and Jesus was resurrected to be "the firstborn from the dead," raised up to be the Eternal "image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation:" The fire of His Holiness burns away the dross of your sin and leaves you pure and refined, so that on the Last Day we who are being saved by the power of God will "be united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like His." And all this, in part, because Jesus resisted the devil and the devil fled away from Him.
2) The Epistle of James says "Submit yourselves therefore to God." In the verse just before this James quotes Proverbs 3:34 when he writes “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James then continues to say "Submit yourselves therefore to God." And this is what Jesus does in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 4, and this is the second and most important part of this account from Scripture, because it is in Jesus' submission to God that Jesus is able to subdue the devil by resisting the devil's temptations. Jesus is shown to be humble, He is not proud. Jesus doesn't say to the devil, "Yes I'm the Son of God! I'm going to crush your head! You Snake in the grass!" No Jesus resists the devil in humility quoting Scripture to the devil, putting Himself under God His Father, even though as the second person of the Holy Trinity Jesus is equal to the Father, because Jesus is God.
Think about this: The devil's "promise" was counterfeit, as all his promises are counterfeit right back to his counterfeit promises to Eve in the Garden of Eden. Every word from his mouth is a lie or a twisting of the truth into a lie for the devil is the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning. The devil could not truly give the things he was tempting Jesus with, the devil couldn't truly give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory because they ultimately belong to God and not to the devil. At best the devil may be seen as a steward, but he is a bad manager of the gifts of God, and the talents placed in the devils hands are never really his to possess and they are not his to truly gift or give to anyone. In the book of Job everything that Job owned, even his health was put into the stewardship of the devil and the devil was cruel and showed himself to be an unloving manager of the gifts of God given to Job. The devil was a brutal trustee, heartless and without pity, how could he be trusted? The devil has never been shown to be "gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." At the end of the Book of Job it was God and not the devil who restored the fortunes of Job and gave him back "twice as much as he had before."
Now you've heard this passage I'm about to read to you from Saint Paul's letter to the Philippians, bit today I want you to think about it in light of Jesus' humility in the face of temptation and His resistance of the devil by submitting Himself to God: From Philippians Chapter 2, "though [Jesus] was in the form of God, [He] did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The last thing that the devil tempted Jesus with, the thing that the devil didn't truly posses, God the Father gave to Jesus because of Jesus' humility in the face of temptation and because of His obedience, because of Jesus' death at the ultimate place of humiliation the cross. In fact God gives Jesus all that the devil had falsely "promised" and more.
When you contend with temptations you can approach it like this, "Jesus is my LORD, I am His, go away in Jesus' Name. You do not contend with me you contend with Jesus. Go away! Amen!" You can say this trusting that Jesus is the best one to fight this fight, for He has already won it for you.
Matthew Chapter 4 is a perfect picture of James chapter 4 verse 7 "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." It is a perfect picture of this best understood through Jesus. Jesus trusted God's word 100% and quotes it freely to resist the devil. Jesus perfectly submitted to God and God's word. We therefore can do the same. When we fail at this and we are enticed by the World, our own spiritual opinions which are regularly contrary to God's word; when we are enticed by the devil, and sin we can trust that Jesus was not swayed by these things and remained pure and Holy. God's Word was Jesus' mighty fortress and God's Word is your mighty fortress in Christ Jesus. You are free to live your life conforming yourself to the word of God, you need not spend your life conforming God's word to you. For every time you have been tempted to be prideful, tempted to be full of yourself and not full of Christ Jesus remember that the debt of that sin is now dead, nailed to the cross forever, Jesus forgives it with His blood. The same blood that pumped through His hungry body so close to physical death in the wilderness as He went toe to toe with the devil and the devil's temptations.
Your faith does not hinge on the exact place where this confrontation happened, the Christian faith does stand on the fact that it did happen. Seeing the Judean desert, the wilderness in which Jesus was tempted with my own eyes is a blessing, but the better blessing is having these words from the Gospel of Matthew that tell me 100% what happened: What Jesus did for me and you to guarantee your salvation and mine. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 James 4:7
 Luke 11:9
 Colossians 1:18
 Colossians 1:15
 Romans 6:5
 James 4:6
 Philippians 3:21
 John 8:44
 Job 1:12 "And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD."
 Job 2:6 "And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”"
 Psalm 145:8
 Job 42:10
 Philippians 2:6-11
 Romans 10:9 "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
 Colossians 2:13-14 "you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with [Jesus], having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross."