He Himself Was TemptedSeries: Christology
HE HIMSELF WAS TEMPTED
Sermon By Terry Siverd /September 25, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
We invite you to open your Bible to Matthew 4 and Luke 4, as we continue this morning with our sermon series on
Christology - - the study of Christ Jesus Christ as the Incarnate Son of God who was both fully Divine and fully human).
Matthew begins his gospel with a record of the lineage of Jesus and then approaches things in a chronological sequence
of the life of Christ: birth … flight into Egypt … return to Nazareth … preaching of John the baptizer … baptism of Jesus
... temptation in the wilderness … the beginning of Jesus' ministry and the calling of His apostles; etc..
Some also see in these last three items listed above an intentional allusion to Israel's history.
The nation of Israel, aka, the Hebrews, traveled a path that came to be replicated by Jesus, as Israel's Messiah.
They went through the Red Sea - - all passed through the sea; and were baptized into Moses and in the cloud
and the sea / cf. Ex.14:13ff and 1Cor.10:2. Matthew chapter three records the baptism of Jesus (Mt.3:13-17).
The went through the wilderness - - then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness /
cf. Ex.15:22 & 16:1ff. Matthew chapter four records how Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness (Mt.4:1ff).
They went to the Mountain (Mt.Sinai) - - on the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt,
on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai...there Israel camped in front of the mountain / Ex.19:1-2.
Matthew chapter five records Jesus' sermon on the mount / when He saw the multitudes, He went up on the mountain;
and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And opening His mouth He began to teach them (Mt.5:1-2).
Whether or not you agree that Matthew is presenting an intentional replication, the resemblance is uncanny.
One would have to concede that the similarities seem to be more than coincidental and may well be by design.
Matthew presents Jesus as the Righteous Messiah who clearly identifies with the people of Israel.
cf. Heb.4:17, 'Jesus' had to be made like His brethren in all things...
In this morning's sermon we want to look at THE TEMPTATIONS OF JESUS.
This sub-topic regarding Jesus' temptations once again places front and center the importance of properly
interpreting (and balancing) the dual aspects of the incarnation of Christ: Jesus was fully God and fully man.
Herbert Lockyer (All The Doctrines Of The Bible, pg.48) summarizes this challenge as follows: Fierce controversy has raged around the subject. Did His deity render sin impossible, and consequently make His temptations unreal? If,
to Him, sin was impossible then His temptation by Satan was a meaningless display, and His victory a mere delusion...
MANY HAVE WRESTLED WITH THIS TOPIC, WITH A FEW PERCEVING IT TO BE A TRULY PROBLEMATIC CONTRADITION.
Mt.4:1 states clearly, Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Coupled with Mt.4:1 is Heb.4:15: For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with
our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things are we are, yet without sin.
Juxtaposed with these two texts is Js.1:13b, which emphatically states, God cannot be tempted by evil...
Whatever our understanding of Christology (be it limited or extensive), if the Scriptures serve as our pilot
we should not be surprised and certainly not shocked to consider the fact that JESUS WAS TEMPTED.
This alleged controversy quickly fades if and when we permit Philp.2:7 to serve as a hermeneutical guidepost.
Although He existed in the form of God, He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself...
In 1955 a Greek named Nikos Kazantzakis wrote a book titled, The Last Temptation of Christ. In 1988 Martin Scoresese directed a movie by the same title based on the book. If you were living back, you'll remember It caused no small stir.
Although thought-provoking it went well beyond what is written in the Scriptures, something Paul warned about in 1Cor.4:6 (in us you might learn not to exceed what is written...). I have not read Kazantzakis' book nor have I seen Scoresese' cinematic production. Both engaged in far-out speculations about temptations confronted by Jesus during His humanity. I've not done that heretofore in this series and I have no desire to do so now. I do however want to
share a brief excerpt from the the prologue of Kazantzakis' book: some were shocked that Christ had temptations.
In this sermon series we are accentuating the humanity of Jesus.
Let me be clear, we are not being driven by any desire to downplay the-fulness-of-God aspect of the life of Christ.
Col.2:9 declares, In (Jesus) all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.
In addition to Col.2:9, we can read another Pauline quote from Rom.8:1-3, which states - - There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from
the law of of sin and death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His
own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
This passage from Romans is an expanded version of a similar condensed quote from Paul recorded in 2Cor.5:21 - -
(God) made (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness is referenced in the three synoptic gospels.
Mark's account is comprised of just two verses (Mk.1:12-13) - -
And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness for
forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.
Both Matthew's account (Mt.4:1-11) and Luke's account (Lk.4:1-13) provide the same four essentials:
directed by the the Holy Spirit … in the wilderness … to be tempted … for 40 days (and nights).
Matthew and Luke elaborate on the specific temptations.
When Jesus became hungry, the temptation from Satan was If You are the Son of God turn these stones into bread.
Jesus responded to Satan's temptation by quoting Scripture (Mt.4:4 with Deut.8:3) - -
it it written, 'Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God'.
Next, the devil took Him into the holy city; and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
saying, If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. Jesus responded again by quoting
Scripture (Mt.4:4 & Lk.4:9 with Deut.6:16) - - You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.
Thirdly, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world
and their glory, saying to Him, all these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.
Jesus again responded by quoting Scripture (Mt.4:8-10 & Lk.4:5-8 with Deut.6:13) - -
Begone Satan! For it is written: You shall worship the Lord Your God and serve Him only.
These three specific temptations are often viewed to be broad representations of all kinds of sin.
Perhaps, as per 1Jn.2:16 / the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.
The central lesson that we learn from Jesus as to how to combat temptations is to KNOW THE SCRIPTURES!!!
Jesus heed the David's words in Ps.119:11 / Thy word have I treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.
This KNOWING SCRIPTURE is the starting place and the ending place for our battle against temptation.
It is irreplaceable. And it is irresponsible for us to think we can be victorious over sin temptations without it.
To not diligently treasure up the Scriptures is the equivalent of a dereliction of duty for any disciple of Christ!
Matthew (Mt.4:11) tells us that after these three temptations the devil left Him. But it wasn't a three and done.
Luke (Lk.4:13) adds that “(the devil) departed from Jesus until an opportune time.”
Someone has written, “after the dove, there came the devil - - after the benediction, there came the battle.”
As with Jesus, our lives will be filled with temptations so we might as well gear up for a lifetime of skirmishes.
As a postscript to today's sermon let me close with two additional thoughts - - both of them delightful - -
Mt.4:11b and Mk.1:13b state that (after the temptations) the angels were ministering to Him.
Concerning angels, about which we know so little, Heb.1:14 states,
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?
Earlier we read Rom.8:1 (there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus). In that same chapter Paul exhorts: If God is for us, who can be against us? (Rom.8:31) and In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer... (Rom.8:37).