************ Sermon on Luke 4:5-8 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 7, 2016
"The Second Temptation"
I still can't believe I fell for the Devil's lies. God told us not to eat from that tree. God told us we would surely die if we do. But the serpent confidently asserted we would not surely die; instead, we would be like God. Look at me now. My body is subject to illness, injury, decay, old age.
The serpent's questions were confusing and unexpected. "Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?" He put doubt in my mind. He told me I would be like God. The serpent appeared to be our friend. He could speak our language. He seemed to know more than we knew. And the fruit was beautiful and looked delicious.
I've looked back on that day many times. How it changed me. How it changed us and our children. God's presence had always been good . But now it was dreadful and we were scared when we heard the sound of God walking in the Garden. Adam blamed me but why didn't he stop me? He even made it sound like having me as a companion and helper was a bad idea. The decay of our hearts and minds has been startling. The desire to do evil has become part of us and our children while faith, goodness, and love has become a struggle. And now we know death.
All because we fell for the serpent's lies.
The Devil is a liar, congregation. Those who are baptized and those who profess their faith need to be warned that Satan is the father of lies and has been a liar from the beginning. He is not to be believed. You cannot trust a single word from his mouth. We see his lies again in our text for this morning.
I A Deceitful Presentation
A Our passage starts with a deceitful presentation. Some might call it a miracle of sorts. It wasn't a real miracle. Since it was done by Satan we know it involved trickery -- like when Pharaoh's magicians turned staffs into snakes (Ex 7:11). But it does show the power and guile of Satan. And it shows us why we must consider Satan to be armed and dangerous and a threat to the people of God.
We are told "the devil led Jesus up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world" (Lk 4:5). Luke's gospel is the only one that uses the expression "in an instant." So what did Satan do? By means of tricks and illusions, Satan tries to duplicate and imitate God. Remember what God did for Moses? Moses was going to die. But before he did, Moses climbed Mount Nebo. From there the Lord showed him the whole land of Canaan (Deut 34:1-4; cf Deut 3:27). In a case of one-upmanship, Satan shows Jesus not the just the Promised Land but all the kingdoms of the world. In a day before movies and telescopes, how did he do this? We aren't told.
B Satan held before Jesus the "authority and splendor" of the kingdoms of the world. Satan glossed over all their gory aspects. He made a hasty presentation, hoping that Jesus would not see the ugly flaws. Do you think he showed Jesus the drugs, violence, war, slavery, abuse, prostitution, corruption, and drunkenness of the kingdoms of the Ancient World? Do you think Satan showed Jesus the crucifixions done by Rome? Do you think Satan showed Jesus the moral depravity of high Roman society? Do you think Satan showed Jesus the killing of infant girls and old people in many ancient societies? If this temptation took place today, do you think Satan would show Jesus the persecution of Christians in India and the Middle East? Do you think Satan would show Jesus the activities of Boko Haram -- the group in Nigeria that enslaves young girls and turns boys into killers? Do you think Satan would show Jesus the executions done by ISIS? Do you think Satan would show Jesus the starvation and enslavement of North Korea? Do you think Satan would show Jesus the mistreatment of women and girls in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan? Do you think Satan would show Jesus the drug lords of Mexico? Do you think Satan would show Jesus the inner-cities of America? Do you think Satan would show Jesus the drinking water of Flint, MI? Of course not! Satan doesn't show any of this to Jesus. It was a selective presentation. Satan concentrated on the authority and splendor of the nations and glossed over the dirt and filth and sin and crime.
C Satan held before Jesus the "authority and splendor" of the kingdoms of the world. Not only was Satan's presentation selective but it concentrated on the temporary, the passing, the momentary. We know from Daniel, and other places, that the kingdoms of the world have feet of clay and that someday they will be destroyed as the kingdom of God is established on earth (Dan 2).
So, Satan's second temptation started off with a lie. If anything, Satan is like a dishonest salesman. I remember the time we were looking at a used car. The salesman pointed out all the good features, of course. Then we took it for a test drive. Something didn't feel right. It felt like the alignment was off. I checked out the car on the internet and discovered it had been in a frame-bending accident.
D Satan holds before us what he held before Jesus. This is true for the little baby we baptized this morning. This is true for those who professed their faith this morning. This is true for each and every one of us. Satan wants to lure us and tempt us with the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of this world. He wants to lure us and tempt us with what is illusory and temporary. He wants to lure and tempt us with earthly treasure, with the world's version of the good life, with the peace that comes from alcohol or drugs. Forget this, congregation, and hold before your eyes the kingdom of God and its righteousness. Hold before your eyes the treasures of heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. Hold before your eyes the authority and splendor of Christ and His kingdom.
II A Deceitful Claim
A After showing Jesus all the kingdoms of the world, Satan continued with a deceitful claim. Did you catch his lie? "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to" (Lk 4:6).
What does Satan possess? What is it that Satan can give to others? Jesus calls Satan the "ruler of this world" (Jn 12:31). Paul identifies Satan as the "god of this world" (2 Cor 4:3). This does not mean Satan is king and ruler because that contradicts what Scripture tells us about God:
(Ps 22:28) for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.
(Ps 103:19) The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all.
(Isa 37:16) "O LORD Almighty, God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth.
(Dan 2:20-21) "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. (21) He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them.
Do you remember Cyrus, King of Persia? It was Cyrus who carved out a mighty empire and defeated the Babylonians. It was Cyrus who set free the captives Babylon had taken during its harsh rule. When we look at what the Bible says about Cyrus we see God's control of kings and nations:
(Isa 44:28-45:1) [God] says of Cyrus, 'He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, "Let it be rebuilt," and of the temple, "Let its foundations be laid."' (1) "This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut ..."Do you hear this? Cyrus -- wicked Cyrus, evil Cyrus -- is God's servant! He us under the control of God.
The world and its kingdoms belong to God and not to Satan. It is God -- and not Satan -- Who can give the authority and splendor of these kingdoms to others. Our Lord is the One Who is in sovereign control of history, and of the nations. Not Satan.
B What does it mean, then, that Satan is the "god of this world" and the "ruler of this world"? It does NOT mean what Satan claims it means. It simply means Satan is our main enemy. As Paul states it in Ephesians 6:
(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.That's Satan.
God is the ruler. Satan is our enemy. So, don't ever make the mistake, my brothers and sisters, of thinking of Satan as God's equal and opposite. Satan has a lot of tricks up his sleeve. But He is not God's equal. The authority and splendor of the nations is not His to give away.
It is worth noting that throughout the Bible Satan is continually offering others things which are not his to give. He offers Adam and Eve the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but it was not his to give. He offers Jesus the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of the world, but this was not his to give. Contrast this with Jesus Who offers what He possesses, and the life which He offers is that which He has obtained at the cost of His own blood.
Satan offers us too all sorts of stuff that is not his to give. He promises happiness. He promises peace. He promises prosperity. He promises long life. He promises health. He promises knowledge. None of this is his to give.
III A Deceitful Promise
A Satan shows Jesus the kingdoms of the world. He proclaims his ability to give the authority and splendor of these nations to Jesus. To these two lies he adds a deceitful promise: "... it will all be yours" (Lk 4:7).
What is Satan really offering to Jesus? Satan is offering Jesus power and glory. We were talking about the Presidential race at coffee time this past week. I wondered out loud why anyone would want the job. The answer is simple: because the presidential candidates want the power and the glory. We know that power and glory were the very things Jesus left behind in heaven when He came to earth to redeem a sinful people. So, Satan was offering Jesus something He had put to the side when He took on our flesh. Furthermore, power and glory was something Christ knew He would regain after He humbled Himself and became obedient to death -- even death on a cross (cf Phil 2:5-11).
B What is Satan really offering to Jesus? A cheap imitation of the real thing. It is like an advertisement in one of my magazines for an imitation Rolex. It is like late-night TV offers for precious jewels. Satan offers Jesus the passing and fading power and glory of the kingdoms of the world. No matter how attractive Satan makes it look, it is nothing next to the power and glory of the Kingdom of God.
C What is Satan really offering to Jesus. He is offering Jesus a shortcut to power and glory. An easier way. According to God's eternal plan for our salvation, the path to power and glory is the path to the cross. Satan is trying to short-circuit that plan. He is offering Jesus glory without pain and power without suffering. He is telling Jesus He can get the power and the glory without Good Friday and its mockery of a trial, crown of thorns, whipping, and crucifixion. "Forget the cross," said Satan. Satan offered Jesus a crown without a cross: "Let me show you an easier way, a simpler way, a way without pain and suffering." But in God's order, the cross is the path to the crown. Suffering is the pathway to glory.
D What is true for Jesus is also true for all of us. The cross is the path to the crown. This is true for the little baby we baptized this morning. This is true for those who professed their faith this morning. This is true for each and every one of us. The cross is the path to the crown:
(1 Pet 5:10) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
(cf 2 Tim 2:11-12; 1 Pet 2:21; 4:12-13)
This second temptation tells us not to be concerned about power and glory. The disciples were this way and actually argued among themselves about who was the greatest (Mk 9:33-34). They were concerned with who would sit on the right and left hand of the Lord (Mt 20:20-21). The second temptation teaches us that the path to greatness goes through the cross.
IV A Deceitful Idolatry
A Satan shows Jesus the kingdoms of the world. He proclaims his ability to give the authority and splendor of these nations to Jesus. He makes this into a promise. And then he adds a deceitful idolatry: "So if you worship me, it will all be yours" (Lk 4:7).
Satan asks for only one thing in this second temptation, but that one thing was the most crucial act of all. He asked that he be worshiped. No doubt Satan made this sound like no big deal, like something small and trivial. Perhaps he indicated it would be done in private and for just one moment in time.
Our Lord, however, understood exactly what was at stake here. So Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God ...'" To worship Satan would have been a direct violation of God's Word. And, according to the Catechism, those who do this endanger their very salvation (Heidelberg Catechism, Q & A 94). To use the words of Jesus, they have gained the world but have lost their soul (Mk 8:36).
Worship implies certain things. Worship is an act which acknowledges that the person or thing being worshiped is greater than the worshiper. That which is worshiped is of greater worth, greater power, and greater authority than the worshiper. Thus, the one who worships another must also serve him. Jesus knew this fully well. That's why He added something to His quote from Deuteronomy 6:13. That's why He added the words, "and serve him only" -- which are not a part of the original text. Our Lord's words inform Satan that Jesus realized worship would have made Him a servant of Satan, a subordinate of Satan, a tool of Satan.
B Here we see Satan's main goal in the second temptation. He wants to be worshiped. What he wants is power and glory. What he wants is authority and splendor. According to the Bible, this is something Satan has always wanted. According to Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, that is why he rebelled against God to start with. He wanted the worship that belonged to God alone. He wanted the power that belonged to God alone. He wanted the glory that belonged to God alone. He wanted to be God.
C This second temptation reminds us that the worship of God is constantly under satanic attack. Satan seeks to pervert our worship in one of two ways. First, he seeks to redirect our worship. He seeks to turn our worship from the one only true God to virtually anything else. Second, he seeks to reduce our worship. "Use worship," he said to Jesus, "to get what you want." Here is my biggest problem with the health and wealth gospel proclaimed by many preachers. Worship becomes a means to an end. We worship so we will feel good. We worship so we will be blessed. But worship is never meant to be for our benefit; instead, it is meant for the glory of God.
Satan is a liar. But the Lord Jesus Christ is truth. So He resists Satan. So He says NO to the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of the world in order to suffer and die for our sins. And, in doing so, He proves Himself to be worthy to receive what He gave up when He took on our flesh -- namely, the power and glory that has always been His.
Satan is a liar. So ignore him. But the Lord Jesus Christ is truth. So, worship Him. This I say to the little baby we baptized this morning. This I say to those who professed their faith this morning. This I say to each and every one of us.
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