Sermon Matthew 4v1-11 Epiphany 1

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Sermon Matthew 4v1-11 Epiphany 1 Powered By Docstoc
					The season of Epiphany is the time when Jesus‟ glory as the Son of God is revealed.
Usually we read about his miracles or his powerful preaching, but this week we see Jesus
being tempted in the wilderness. No flash. No miracles. Just Jesus as our substitute. I
suppose you could ask, “Why, then, are we looking at this text during Epiphany?” Two
reasons. First, we are preaching our way through Matthew‟s gospel, and Matthew
chapter 4 comes after chapter three. Secondly, I believe this text does show Jesus‟ glory
as the Son of God, in a different kind of way. Pastor Fedke always said, “You can tell
how important something is by how hard the devil tries to destroy it.” When you think
about that, it really makes a lot of sense. We all know one of those scandalous stories of
prominent Christian that falls into public sin. Adultery, theft, addiction. Then a Christian
home where Christ is honored and his Word is taught is destroyed by adultery. Integrity
and trust are lost because of a rap sheet. Shame follows the addict. By his evil work
Satan has ruined lives and eternities. He‟s tries hard to destroy those things that are
important to God. The devil tried awful hard to destroy Jesus as well because he knew
Jesus would undo his evil work. Let‟s look and see just how hard the devil fought to try
and prevent that from happening.

Our text begins, “1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the
devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to
him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. The devil
was doing more than just asking Jesus to do a miracle. Doing a miracle would not be a
sin. The devil was tempting Jesus to believe He couldn‟t rely on his Heavenly Father to
provide for him. He‟s was insinuating that God doesn‟t care about us or what goes on in
our lives enough to do something about it. And since Jesus is the Christ, he can, and
should, use his own power and get himself something to eat.

Jesus resisted the devil‟s temptation by quoting scripture. “ Jesus answered, “It is written:
„Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of
God.” That is a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3 in which Moses was talking to a new
generation of Israelites as they prepared to take hold of the Promised Land. It was a time
of great anxiety. What would life be like? Through Moses, God comforted the Israelites
by reminding them that while they wandered in the desert God provided them with
everything they needed to survive, and he would certainly provide for them in their new
home as well. So they didn‟t have to worry about what they would eat and drink. God
would provide. They just needed to concentrate on following God‟s Word. That is what
would give them true life.

Jesus resisted the temptation to doubt God‟s loving care. Sadly we haven‟t always done
that, have we? There have been times when we have forgotten all about God‟s power to
help. We believed it was all up to us. When we faced sickness, we trusted only the
doctors to heal us and forgot about the one who guides their hands and gives them
wisdom. When money was tight we hung on to every penny. We were afraid that we
wouldn‟t make it and forgot about the one who gives us all our wealth. As a church we
can plan our ministry so tightly that it no longer leaves room for God‟s direction, or
unexpected blessings. That‟s safe because then we don‟t need to rely on God, because
we‟ve got everything planned out. We can see how it‟ll all work.

In many ways in our lives we have fallen into sin and doubted God‟s loving care, or least
overlooked it. That sin, like any other, merits God‟s anger and punishment. However,
Christ is our substitute and he perfectly resisted the very temptations to which we have
fallen. He forgives us, and through faith, his perfection becomes ours in God‟s sight. The
devil‟s evil work has been undone.

Jesus resisted temptation, but the devil wasn‟t that easily defeated. So again he came to
Jesus. Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of
the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“„He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so
that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

At first it might seem like the sin the devil was tempting Jesus with was suicide, but it
wasn‟t. The temptation was to abuse and twist the merciful promises of God‟s Word. In
order to defend himself against the first temptation Jesus used scripture. The devil took
note of that, and came back at Jesus with his own passage from scripture. The devil
quoted psalm 91, which is a psalm about the constant protection and care that God
provides for this people. However, the devil was twisting God‟s Word. Psalm 91 was
not a promise of unlimited angelic protection, it was rather assurance that God will be
with us and protect us as we go about living God pleasing lives. The devil was twisting
scripture and trying to get Jesus to test God to keep one portion or his word while he
broke another portion, the fifth commandment.

Jesus once again responded with a quote. Jesus answered him, “It is also written: „Do not
put the Lord your God to the test.” Jesus spoke the Words of Moses recorded in
Deuteronomy 6:13. Moses warned the Israelites not to put the Lord to the test as they did
at Massah. At Massah the Israelites put God to the test by demanding a miracle he had
not promised them- water from a rock. Jesus would not demand a miracle of God he did
not promise. He would not twist God‟s Word or test his heavenly father.
I think we as Christians need to take this temptation to heart, because I believe we often
face it. I‟ve heard people say concerning their health, “When it‟s your time, it‟s your
time and there‟s nothing you can do about it.” It‟s true that our times are in God‟s hands,
but that doesn‟t allow us to eat horribly and abuse our bodies, and then act like our health
problems or death were all God‟s doing. Our actions can have an impact on our time of
death. As a church we could say, “The Lord grows the church when and where he wants,
so if we‟re supposed to grow he‟ll bring the people to us,” and then sit back and neglect
evangelism and personal spiritual growth. But then we are disobeying one portion of
God‟s Word, the great commission, to test him in another portion of his word. In the
same vain, we could sit back and neglect stewardship saying, “We‟ve always gotten by
somehow.” That may be true, because we have a gracious God who has exciting work
for us to do here. But it is an abuse of God‟s Word to neglect financial planning to test
him on his promises to provide.

What we are dealing with is really fatalism vs. Christian faith. Fatalism says that
everything is predetermined so nothing we do matters. Christian faith says, God has
everything under his control, but what we do is also important to God. In many ways in
our lives we have fallen into a fatalistic attitude, and neglected to carry our God given
responsibilities. Haven‟t we? That sin, like any other, merits God‟s anger and
punishment. However, Christ is our substitute and he perfectly resisted the very
temptations to which we have fallen. He forgives us, and through faith, his perfection
becomes ours in God‟s sight. The devil‟s evil work has been undone.

The devil took his final shot at destroying Jesus when he took him to a very high
mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I
will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” “You will not surely
die,” the devil told Adam and Eve. It was a bold faced lie. “All this I will give you.”
Another bold faced lie, but can you really expect anything different from the father of
lies? What Satan was promising Jesus was something easier than being the Christ. Jesus
knew the kind of life he would lead. He saw the reality of the death he would face. The
devil was offering him a chance out of it. Instead of crucified he could be king, and all
he had to do was bow down to Satan. The only problem is the devil couldn‟t make good
on his promise, even if he wanted to because it wasn‟t the devil‟s to give. The earth, and
everything in it, belongs the Lord. So Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is
written: „Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”

What a tragedy it is that we are often slow to learn from Jesus‟ example, because the
devil still tempts us with the same lie toady. In spite of what we know he sometime
tricks us into thinking that we‟ll be better off- happier or richer-if we disobey God‟s
commands. For example, how many of us haven‟t told a lie because we believe it would
be easier than telling the truth? Yet, that lie is a sin. That sin, like any other, merits
God‟s anger and punishment. However, Christ is our substitute who perfectly resisted
the very temptations we fall to. And through faith, his perfection becomes ours in God‟s
sight. The devil evil work has been undone.

After that final temptation our text says, “Then the devil left him, and angels came and
attended him.” Jesus had defeated Satan for our salvation.

You can tell how important something is by how hard the devil tries to stop it. That is
what my pastor always said. We, believers in Christ, are important to God. Our lives are
important in that we can use them to spread the good news of Christ. Therefore Satan is
gunning for us. He seeks to destroy us with temptation and sin. He seeks to have us in
hell with him. Sadly, he succeeds in dragging us into sin. However, doesn‟t completely
succeed because he didn‟t succeed with Christ. For Jesus resisted the temptations of the
devil as our substitute and won forgiveness for us. Jesus has undone the effects of the
devil‟s evil work in our lives and eternal lives. Our eternity was riding on Jesus success.
That how important Jesus‟ mission was. And you can also tell how important Jesus is by
how hard to devil tried to stop him. Amen.