Today’s sermon is the 2nd part of a 3-part series: Temptation of Jesus.
Last week we covered Satan’s test on Jesus’ fleshly hunger, which He overcame through the Word of God, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’. The test is, which is more important – physical or spiritual food?
An aside – the order of temptation is recorded differently in Luke and Matthew. Many scholars agree that Luke’s account is probably chronological, while Matthew’s account records the temptations covering all 3 aspects – body, soul and spirit.
Satan failed to tempt Jesus on his first try This time he attacks Jesus from a different angle. ‘Prove that you are the Son of God by jumping down!’ (Psalm 91:10-12) But Jesus did not take Satan’s bait and replied: ‘Do not test the LORD! (Deuteronomy 6:16)
1. What is the devil’s intention in tempting Jesus?
It is for the same intention when the devil tempts us today. It is so that we will follow his agenda. If Jesus had jumped to prove Himself to the devil, it meant that Jesus had listened to the devil’s lead and would have come under his control. That is what the devil wants.
It would have been easy for Jesus to throw Himself down, but who will receive the glory? Would it have served the redemptive will of God & for His glory? How do we test God? When we expect good grades without studying, miracles without having a faithful life of prayer, or looking for revival without trying to evangelise. May we not fall into temptations because we wish to show off!
2. How and why do we test God in our wilderness journey?
Act 7:38 tells us the wilderness is where the “congregation” (eklesia in Greek) or church is.
The Israelites complained & grumbled in the wilderness. We too have grumbled & complained many times during our church life? And we been dissatisfied and unhappy about many things. But, do you think that there will be no further complaints, and that we will be perfectly happy with God if He had provided everything we needed before we even asked? The problem in the church as in the wilderness is greed. Greed causes us to complain.
At the same time, church also allows us to grow in faith as we obey and follow the Word of God. It is the process of changing us into God’s firstborns. It is like seeing a doctor and finding out that we have a sickness we did not know we had. And because we did not know, we had no worries. But now that we know, we worry, get irritated and upset, and blame the doctor. Likewise, in the wilderness journey of church life, God brings out the ugliness from deep inside us, and shows us the real image of our faith, our true spiritual status. But God doesn’t just show the problem, He also gives solutions. But if we cannot accept that, we will test God. How?
In the wilderness, God promised He will provide water & food and will rid the Canaanites. But the Israelites did not believe God’s word & promises. Likewise, we test God when we cannot believe in the Word & live like God is not real. We test God when we have no thanksgiving but only dissension even when God given us what we requested.
3. Those who successfully went through the wilderness journey and the blessings they received
Abraham went to Egypt because of the famine and came back to Canaan with gifts from Pharaoh. Likewise, the Israelites went to Egypt because of the famine, became slaves, but because of God’s intervention they came out with much wealth. Abraham’s life was a foreshadow for the Israelites. Through these journeys, Abraham drew closer to God, and his faith grew. Eventually he had enough faith to sacrifice Isaac and received the blessing of Jehovah Jireh (God provides). May we go through the wilderness as Abraham did, and receive the blessing of Jehovah Jireh too!
David fled from Saul (1 Samuel 19-25) for 10 years. His testing in the wilderness paved the way for David to become king over Israel, which foreshadows God’s eternal kingdom of God. As God’s royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), God will also give us the ability to establish His kingdom.
1 King 19 records Elijah fleeing from Ahab and Jezebel into the wilderness up to Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai) where he received revelations, earthquakes, winds, and eventually the small voice of God (Word of God). It is also like Moses going up Mount Sinai and receiving the Word of God in the 10 Commandments and the law. Afterwards Elijah was able to take on the path of transfiguration. May God grant us the path of transfiguration too!
Before Jesus began His public ministry as the Son of God, He fasted and prayed in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. Thereafter, Jesus reveals Himself as the Messiah. After our wilderness journey, may we too become sons of God, who will proudly evangelise and proclaim the Word of God.
(v) Woman with the sun (Revelation 12:6)
The woman, pregnant with child was taken to the wilderness to hide from the great dragon seeking to devour them. The woman represents the church of the end times, who waits for the coming of the Lord. Let us be that woman with the Sun (Word) in us. Although, the wilderness was a place of testing and trials for the Israelites, it was also a refuge & hiding place. Today, the wilderness is the church where we belong and where God has led us. It is our hiding place. Jesus Christ & the Word of God is our hiding place.
Let us seek to overcome tests, trials and temptations through prayer and the Word of God!