************ Sermon on Luke 4:1-2 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 17, 2016
"Tempted by the Devil"
The Summer of 1976 Ruth and I were working in a church in Gallup, New Mexico. I decided to bake Ruth a cake for her birthday. It came out of the oven flat and hard like a stone. I thought maybe I forgot one of the ingredients. Or, maybe one of the ingredients was old. A couple of weeks later it was Ruth's turn and what came out of the oven was flat and hard like a stone. We mentioned this to someone in the church. They started to laugh. We found out that if you live in Gallup, New Mexico, you need to use high altitude baking instructions: that is, reduce baking powder, reduce sugar, increase liquid, increase oven temperature.
We were turning bread into stones while Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread.
This is the first of what will probably be four sermons on the temptations of Jesus. Today we learn something about Jesus, something about Satan, and something about ourselves.
I Jesus is the Second Adam and the True Israel
A Today we learn that Jesus is the second Adam. There are so many parallels between Adam and Jesus. Both Adam and Jesus were tempted. Both Adam and Jesus were tempted by Satan. Both Adam and Jesus were tempted to eat. Both Adam and Jesus were tempted to stray from God's ways. Both Adam and Jesus knew what was right and what was wrong.
Jesus was in the same position as Adam: both were tempted as federal head of the human race. Both were tempted as representatives of mankind. Both were tempted in our place. The result of Adam's disobedience was original sin and misery and ruin and total depravity for the entire human race. Would Jesus be obedient where Adam was disobedient? Would Jesus obey the requirements of God's law? Would Jesus fail as federal head and plunge man even deeper into the abyss of sin, or would He be obedient in our place?
B There are also many differences between Adam and Jesus. Take a look at where Luke placed the temptation: after the baptism and genealogy of Jesus. The baptism affirms that Jesus is the Son of God. The genealogy affirms that Jesus is the son of Adam. So Luke affirms both the full divinity and the full humanity of Jesus. We are being told that Jesus was tempted as the God-Man, as the Messiah. Adam, of course, was only man and not God.
Adam was tempted in the midst of a beautiful garden. Jesus was tempted in a lonely, dry, bleak, and dark wilderness.
Adam did not face the temptation alone. He had the support and companionship of Eve. When Jesus was tempted, He was all alone.
Adam and Eve were allowed to eat of every tree in the Garden except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Which leads us to conclude that they were not hungry when Satan tempted them to eat. When Jesus was tempted He was physically drained by forty days of fasting.
Adam, of course, was not tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread. Of course Satan did not tempt him to do this! Because Adam was man and not God. So, Jesus' temptation to turn stones into bread was unique to Him as the almighty Son of God. This temptation could only be dangled before someone divine.
Unlike the first Adam, Jesus was obedient. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus did not fail the test. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus did not listen to Satan. The first Adam fell but the second Adam remained obedient.
C The temptation of our Lord took place in the wilderness. "Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil." The Lord went into the wilderness to confront Satan.
What do I emphasize the wilderness? It was in the wilderness that Israel tempted God. Israel was in the wilderness forty years, even as our Lord was in the wilderness for forty days. Israel hungered even as our Lord did. In both cases God was testing man. In the case of Israel, they also put God to the test, demanding to be fed, and threatening to return to Egypt.
We see that Jesus is the true Israel of God. He succeeded where Israel failed. He was obedient where Israel was disobedient. He trusted where Israel doubted.
D "Could Jesus Have Sinned?" That's the title of a paper we were assigned to write while in seminary. "Could Jesus Have Sinned?" My classmates and I argued about this in the Coffee Shop. We looked at our Scripture reading for this morning. We looked at Hebrews 4 which says He was tempted in every way, just as we are. We quickly noticed that those who emphasized the divinity of Jesus tended to argue against the possibility of sin and those who emphasized the humanity of Jesus argued the other way.
"Could Jesus Have Sinned?" Instead of looking at the human and divine natures of Christ we need to look in a totally different direction. Ask this question in terms of Jesus' mission. Could Jesus have sinned as Messiah and Mediator? We all know the answer -- or, at least we should. Let me remind you of Q & A 15 of the Catechism:
What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?There you have it. Jesus needed to be righteous. That is, Jesus needed to be sinless, perfect, pure, holy, blameless, and innocent. A sinful Jesus could not have saved us. A sinful Jesus is not qualified to be our Mediator.
One who is truly human and truly righteous, yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God.
One more point here: if Jesus could sin, then God's eternal plan and promise for our salvation is not altogether sure and can fail.
II Satan is the Father of Lies
A Today we also learn something about Satan.
We need to learn about Satan because he is the enemy of God and His people. Unless you know your enemy you cannot defend and guard yourself against his attacks. For instance, we now recognize that 9/11 happened because we did not know the enemy. We did not know who they were and what they were capable of doing. In the same way we need to know who Satan is and what he is capable of doing.
B So, what do we learn about Satan? Did you notice what he uses to attack Jesus? He uses Scripture. He masquerades as a Bible-quoting, Bible-thumping, Bible-loving being. He is anything but. Here is a reminder that we don't give our blessing just because someone quotes the Bible. We need to test what is being said. We need to test what is being said in the light of other Scripture passages.
We see that Satan twists and distorts Scripture. He twists and distorts Scripture to the point that he undermines and denies what God says. We need to remember what Jesus said about Satan:
(Jn 8:44) ... He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.Satan is a liar. You cannot believe anything he says. You cannot take anything he says at face value. He is a pathological liar.
I have met a number of pathological liars throughout the years. Such persons lie whether or not it is necessary. It is such a habit that it is something they automatically do -- even if it will hurt them, even if it is easier and better to just say the truth.
We see Satan's lies throughout the Bible. He lied to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" That's not even close to what God said. What God actually said was,
(Gen 2:16-17) "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; (17) but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."See how he twists what God says? Remember what Satan said next?
(Gen 3:4-5) "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. (5) "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."Of course man was going to die. So that was an outright lie. And, Satan neglects to say that the man and the woman were already like God because they were made in God's image, in God's likeness. That's Satan: lies, mistruths, half lies, changing the facts, false testimony, exaggeration, slander, twisting of words.
Satan also lied about Job and his faith. He lied about Job and his faith before the face of the God Who knows all things and sees all things. Satan claimed that Job didn't really believe in and trust in God. Satan claimed that if Job lost everything near and dear to him -- his children, his wealth, his flocks, his herds, his camels, his servants -- he would curse God and die. Yet when Job lost everything he did not abandon his faith and hope in God.
In our Bible reading Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world. He promises to give Jesus all their authority and splendor in return for Jesus' worship. Satan never gives anything or anyone away. So what is going on here? Satan is offering Jesus something that He doesn't have the right to offer. That's like me offering to sell you the Empire State Building or the Brooklyn Bridge or the San Diego Zoo. Satan is always offering others that which he does not possess. He is a liar, a fake, a master at deception.
C We need to keep Satan's goal in mind. Satan will do whatever he can to stop the gospel. Satan will do whatever he can to prevent the establishment of God's kingdom. Satan does not want God's will to be done on earth as it is done in heaven. If Satan can get Jesus to commit sin then Jesus is not qualified to be our Savior and Mediator. Then Jesus is not righteous. Then Jesus loses the power to save. Then God's plan for salvation comes to a stop.
III We are Under Attack
A We end by learning something about ourselves.
Satan hates Jesus. But he has no way of attacking Jesus directly because Jesus is in heaven. The only way Satan has to attack Jesus is to attack Jesus' body, the church.
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, the Apostle Paul warns us about this:
(Eph 6:12) For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Our sworn enemies -- the devil, the world, and our own flesh -- never stop attacking us. And, by ourselves we are too weak to hold our own even for a moment. Left to our ourselves we all would abandon the faith and abandon Jesus and abandon the church.
B We learn this morning that the way to resist Satan and evil is to be prepared.
What did Jesus do? He was full of the Holy Spirit. During those forty days He fasted. That was a choice on His part. He could have killed and eaten wild animals -- a rabbit, for instance. He could have eaten locusts and wild honey, as was done by John the Baptist. But Jesus did none of this. Rather, He fasted.
Throughout the Bible, fasting is done as a way to draw close to God. Jesus was about to begin His work as Mediator and He wanted to receive God's power, wisdom, and presence before He started.
Those who fast make a deliberate decision to ignore the needs of the body in order to concentrate on God. That was Jesus' approach. So He was ready, He was prepared, when Satan came to test Him and tempt Him.
You cannot expect to resist temptation if you are not ready. You cannot expect to resist temptation if you have not walked with God and talked with God.
C The devil came to Jesus three times. He came with his lies. He came with his deceit. He came with his twisting of Scripture.
What did Jesus do? He replied back, "It is written ..." "It is written ..." "It is written ..." Every time Satan misquoted or twisted Scripture, Jesus threw Scripture back in his face.
(Mt 4) It is written: Man shall not live on bread alone.
It is written: Do not put the Lord your God to the test.
It is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.
Because Jesus knew the Word, we see in our Bible reading He was empowered to fight off Satan's temptations and attacks. And guess what happened? Satan left!
We see here a key to fighting off temptation. We, like Jesus, need to know and read and study and contemplate the Word. We need to be in worship. We need to have devotions. We need to engage in Bible Study. We need to memorize the Word. Then we, like Jesus, will be empowered to fight off Satan's attacks.
But Satan fights this. Satan tries to prevent people from learning and studying and memorizing Scripture. He wants us to think we are too busy. He wants us to think it is not important. He wants us to put everything else first. He wants us to do anything and everything but spend time with the Word. And, if we have learned God's Word, Satan tries to prevent us from believing it.
I love this story of the temptations of Jesus. Because when I am tempted and fail and fall -- like Adam did, like Israel did -- I know Jesus was righteous in my place. I know that God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ. Because of Christ it is as if I have never sinned nor been a sinner. All I need do is accept this gift of God with a believing heart.
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