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Tempted like us

Matthew 4:1-11

Pastor David Ernst

First Sunday in Lent
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Feb 21, 2021 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. This season lasts 40 days minus the six Sundays before Easter. Every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection, although Sundays in Lent are more solemn than others. Each of the forty days should be days of reflection and mourning for the Lord's humiliation for us.

From Mark and Luke it is clear that Jesus was tempted for forty days and forty nights after his baptism in the Jordan River by John the Baptist. The number "forty" recalls Moses in Exodus 34:28 and Elijah in 1 Kings 19: 8. But Moses' condition, when he had no food, was one of glory; that of Christ, one of humiliation. An angel brought Elijah food before he began his fast; many angels ministered to Christ after he ended his fast. Also, these forty days of humiliation contrast with the forty days of Jesus on earth after his resurrection in exaltation.

The Holy Spirit had led Jesus into a desert where there was no food, but Jesus trusted the Father. It was a severe test, even from the point of view of the physical nature of Christ. The purpose of this retreat was not to provide the opportunity for blessed rest and joy, nor to offer an opportunity for deep contemplation, but to be tempted. of the devil. This fight against the devil was part of the trade and work for which he was sent by God and anointed with the Spirit. Just as the arch enemy of mankind had tempted and defeated the first Adam, thus plunging the entire human race into damnation, he now set out to defeat the second Adam by hindering the work of redemption.

"And the tempter came to Him and said: If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."

This text immediately reminds us of Genesis 3: Satan came to Eve and generated doubts. Unbelievers always put things in such a way that believers will begin to doubt. The formulation of the devil's question implies a doubt. As if to say, "I can't believe you are the Son of God; give me some proof." Giving in to the request would have meant surrendering to the spirit of evil and darkness, lack of trust in divine providence and support, letting selfishness rule rather than practicing self-sacrifice.

Jesus responds to Satan, with great humility, by quoting the Scriptures. With "it is written," Jesus marks Deuteronomy 8 as the Word of God. Deuteronomy 8: 3 describes Moses reminding Israel of God's tender care for his people during the forty-year journey through the wilderness. In particular, it shows how the Lord had fed them with manna, hitherto completely unknown to them and their parents, in order to teach them that 'man does not live by bread alone, but by all that proceeds from the mouth of Jehovah man lives '. '

Jesus refers to himself as true man and also in a broader sense to every human being. This is true of all people, believe it or not. Food is produced by the creative power of God. Believers know and believe. Unbelievers reject it, but it remains true. Jesus readily concedes the usual order of things, man's dependence on food for the ordinary means of life. But beyond material bread, man needs the faith, joy and hope that the Word of God produces.

So the devil took him to the holy city and put him on the highest point of the temple. Having failed in his attempt to produce distrust in God's ability to sustain life under unusual conditions, Satan tries to plant the seed of self-glorification and presumption in the heart of Jesus. The pinnacle of the Temple refers to the southwest corner of the Temple courtyard, where could be seen a panorama of the Kidron Valley, or Matthew has in mind the high ceiling of the Holy of Holies, the highest elevation of the Temple proper. A daring leap, an ostentatious miracle would have been if Jesus, in the presence of the assembled crowd, had thrown himself from this prominent point and reached the ground unharmed. By submitting to the devil at this suggestion, he could have gained more followers in one hour than the total number of disciples he gathered by the laborious method of teaching.

Since Jesus had conquered him with the Scriptures, now Satan tries to use the method of Jesus, he tries to surpass Jesus with the Scriptures. He omits the words "in all your ways." When these words are included, God promises to protect the righteous person in all his righteous ways; When the words are omitted, it is easy to think that Jehovah will protect the righteous no matter what he does. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16. This word from God is based on the incident recorded in Exodus 17:17 at a place called Massah and Meribah, the Israelites tested Jehovah and rebelled against Moses due to lack of water. They were almost ready to stone Moses and with insolence and provocation they challenged God saying: "Is Jehovah among us or not?" If Jesus had thrown himself on the ground, it would have been arrogance and insolence, not confidence.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the splendor of it. Where was this mountain? We don't know, but Satan really did take Jesus to the top of a mountain. Furthermore, Satan was given the power to show Jesus the vast splendor of all the earthly kingdoms. That is incomprehensible to us, but so is the power of Satan. He is not the owner of the world and its kingdoms. He is a usurper who gives the appearance of owning everything. He bet everything with Jesus on this latest and powerful appeal to worldly ambition, which involved voluntary surrender to the most heinous form of idolatry.

His gifts are followed by worship. Satan does not own anything. He gives conditionally. He expects to be worshiped before giving. God owns everything. He gives unconditionally.

Jesus said to him: "Get behind me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only." Here Jesus calls the devil by his real name "Satan". This does not mean that Jesus did not recognize him until then. He addresses Satan as his adversary. Then, through a life of obedience and suffering, Jesus accomplished all that Satan promised: daily sustenance, protection from angels, and authority in heaven and on earth, given to his human nature. But he was according to the will of the Father, done in perfect obedience.

Being tempted is not a sin or else Jesus would have sinned. When we are tempted by Satan and the world, that is not a sin on our part. It becomes sin if we give in. We differ from Jesus in that we have sinful flesh. Life is a constant battle between the new man and the flesh. By faith in Christ, the Christian resists every impulse of the flesh. Like Christ, he uses the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. We remember on our pilgrimage in this world, amid trials and temptations, that we can pray to our Lord who was tempted in every way that we are tempted.

May the peace that passes all understanding be with each one of you. Amen.

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