Drawn By His RestraintSeries: Christology
DRAWN BY HIS RESTRAINT
Sermon By Terry Siverd /October 16, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Last Sunday, in our current sermon series on Christology, we examined the accounts of
the temptation of Jesus as recorded by the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Mark's gospel offers a concise summary (Mk.1:12-13) - - The Spirit impelled (Jesus) go out into the wilderness where
He was tempted by Satan for forty days; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.
Both Matthew (Mt.4:1-11) and Luke (Lk.4:1-13) provide an expanded account of the temptation featuring the same
four key elements: directed by the the Holy Spirit … in the wilderness … to be tempted … for 40 days and nights.
These temptations of Jesus were real.
By “real” we mean that these temptations actually occurred in the wilderness over a span of forty days,
By “real” we also mean that in some undisclosed form (to us) Satan became The Tempter in his confrontation with Jesus.
And, particularly relevant to our current study - - by “real” we mean that JESUS WAS TRULY TEMPTED.
This was not some staged melodrama designed to amp up or intensify the story of the incarnation of Jesus .
Although Jesus was fully God (Col.2:9), His being fully human rendered sin possible so as to make Jesus' temptation real.
If such was not the case then Jesus' so called temptation was nothing more than a make-believe stage production.
As we drill down more deeply, we are reminded of the humanity of Jesus by noting Paul's phraseology (1Cor.15:45) - - The first man, Adam, became a living (human) being.' The last (second) Adam became a life-giving spirit.
Here Paul draws a stark contrast between the two Adams. Just as the disobedience of the first Adam brought death to all (because all sin), the obedience of Jesus Christ as the second Adam offered life & righteousness to all. cf. Rom.5:12f
The incarnation of Christ was more than a marvel of creation, it was A WONDER OF GRACE.
(James Packer, Knowing God, pg.51)
In 2Cor.8:9, Paul sums it this “wonder of grace” writing - - You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
AS THE SON OF GOD JESUS BECAME GOD THE SON, Who had to be made like His brethren in all things...
in order to make propitiation for the sins of the people (Heb.2:17). In being GOD the Son, Jesus not only had to be tempted like His brethren, but He also had to remain obedient to The Father in face of temptation.
Throughout His entire incarnation Jesus was victorious in enduring and overcoming temptations
(Heb.4:15 / tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin). The result, as noted earlier in Heb.2:18 - -
Since He Himself was tempted in that which He suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
Last week (Mt.4:1ff), we addressed how Jesus combated temptations by quoting Scripture. It wasn't just that Jesus quoted the Bible as a some kind of verbal amulet or talisman (mystical charm) to ward off Satanic evil. More to the point, Jesus KNEW SCRIPTURE: He had treasured The Word of God so that He might not sin against God (Ps.119:11).
To repeat what we said before, knowing Scripture is an irreplaceable tool in our battle against temptations.
To fail in knowing Scripture is an irresponsible dereliction of duty that will cause us to fall in the face of temptations.
This morning I want to emphasize another virtue that is indispensable in countering temptations: MEEKNESS.
This word “meekness” is probably one of the most misunderstood words in our English vocabulary.
Meekness is NOT WEAKNESS! In fact it is the very opposite of weakness - - It is power under control.
Meekness is what describes meek but mighty warhorses depicted in Job 39:20ff - - His majestic snorting is terrible. He paws in the valley and rejoices in his strength; He goes out to meet the weapons. He laughs at fear and is not dismayed; And he does not turn back from the sword... with shaking and rage he races over the ground; And he does not stand still at the sound of the trumpet.
The truest way to identify what makes a man is to
observe not only what he does with power, but also what he chooses not to do.
In his book (The Death Of Christ, pg235), James Denney affirms ...the New Testament knows nothing of an incarnation which can be defined apart from its relation to atonement. Phillip Yancey (The Jesus I Never Knew, pg.73) writes of this vital interplay between the incarnation & atonement: For Jesus to save others, quite simply, He could not save Himself.
In His confrontation with the temptations from Satan, Jesus displayed remarkable “power under restraint”.
As the God-man, Jesus could have obliterated Satan in one fell swoop, but instead He chose to follow the Father's will
To loosely paraphrase 2Cor.8:9 - - Though rich in power, for our sakes Jesus chose the path of meekness,
so that through His meekness those who confess Christ as Lord can come to be reckoned as righteous.
If we revisit the actual temptations of Jesus (record in Mt.4 & Lk.4) we can see that these temptations were the very things that the nation of Israel had hoped for in their Messiah. If You are the Son of God turn these stones into bread …
If you are the Son of God, throw Yourself down … all these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me.
In some of the apocryphal (false) writings we read of a Jesus wholly unlike the One we read about in the Scriptures.
They tell of a young boy Jesus who made clay sparrows that He would bring to life with a puff of breath ... They tell how He dropped dead fish in the water to see them miraculously start swimming ... They portray a Jesus who turned His playmates into goats to teach them a lesson, and made people go blind or deaf just for the thrill of healing them.
What a contrast between these counterfeit writings and the pure gospel.
As we read in the gospels, when Jesus began His ministry at the age of thirty we read of One who was quite powerful.
In much that Jesus did He acted as an omnipotent One (all-powerful). He spoke and acted with authority: the deaf came to hear … the speechless spoke … the lame rose up to walk … the blind began to see … lepers were cleansed … demons fled ... devils believed and trembled … the dead were raised .. the wind and waves obeyed His will … etc.
What He told His disciples about Himself was true (Mt.28:18) - - all power is given to Me in heaven and earth.
One of my favorite stories about the power of Jesus is recorded in Jn.18:1-6.
When He said to them, 'I AM He,' they drew back, and fell to the ground.
A cohort (battalion = 600 men) with lanterns and torches and weapons) fell to the ground.
Writing of the same, Matthew 26:53 records that Jesus said to Peter who had drawn his sword and was ready to fight:
Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than 12 legions of angels?
Note however Mt.26:54 - - How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?
Jesus could have opted to become the Messiah that the people had longed for, but He exerted power in restraint.
The victory that He would obtain over Satan would come, but it had to be accomplished in the Father's way.
Listen to Heb.2:14-15 - - Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of
the same, that through DEATH He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;
and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
As disciples of Christ we have a very important assignment to work on for the rest of our lives.
WE MUST CULTIVATE MEEKNESS. WE MUST LEARN TO EXERT POWER THROUGH RESTRAINT.
Jn.12:32 / If I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.
In closing, let us listen to the voice of Scripture one more time (1Pet.2:21-24) - -
You have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example to follow in His steps,
who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return;
while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds were were healed.
The sacred Scriptures call upon us to test (our)selves to see if you (we) in the faith; examine (our)selves (2Cor.13:5).
Since we often struggle with our shortcomings, we must be diligent in helping one another cultivate meekness.