Temptation and Choices

 Had this all written yesterday when my iPad crashed and I lost the whole thing, so trying this again today.
It’s been a great couple of weeks with a family vacation to Ocean City, Maryland, then a trip to Saddleback Church in Orange County California, but I’m glad to be back. Spend three days in Orange County, mostly in Laguna Hills and Laguna Beach, and you might start plotting ways to pack up and “head west, young man!” Spend half the fourth day in Los Angeles, you might say “never mind.”
Back in the Gospel of Luke, the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. We read these thirteen verses, and we read a three act play or short story and simply move along. We don’t really get that Jesus was out there in this wilderness, called Jeshimmon (“the devastation”) for forty days of fasting and prayer. Jesus had come to realize His unique relationship to God at the age of twelve. He had lived our lives for the next eighteen years, earning a living, caring for others and being cared for, going through the daily grind as a Galilean carpenter. The coming of John the Baptist meant that His time had come, in His baptism He had received the approval of the Father.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. Coming back from His baptism, Jesus was led by the spirit into the wilderness for prayer and fasting. It was time for Jesus to begin His campaign and fulfill the purpose for which He came, to call all men to God. It was during this time in the wilderness that Jesus would decide the methods He would use to win hearts and minds and souls.
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” First of all, these temptations are specific to Jesus. Turning rocks into bread would not be a temptation for you or me because we could not do it. We don’t have that power. But Jesus has that power, and a whole lot more of course. The devils temptation here to Jesus was this – to use His powers to win people by giving them material things. Bribe people into following Him. Of course, Jesus answers that temptation quoting scripture, the word of God, from Deuteronomy 8:3 – ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ He’s telling satan, and us, that we can not find life in material things. Or – it is not our job to create new conditions. The task of Christians is to create new men (and women). New conditions will follow.
    

And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” The temptation to compromise. “Don’t keep those standards so high. Let’s make a deal, compromise with just a little evil and men will follow.” The easy way out. We want to see the world in fifty shades of grey, Jesus saw things in black and white. And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” God is God, right is right, wrong is wrong. There can be no compromise with evil, Jesus again quotes God’s word (Deuteronomy 6:13;10;20) in His battle with temptation to work out His methods.


And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” Sensationalism. Let’s blow their minds, give them something to talk about. We could get a billion views on You Tube!!  Just jump off here and let the Angels catch you, they’re not going to let YOU fall!!  Notice though, the enemy here can also quote scripture, pull it out of context and use it against us.  So, we better know our scripture ourselves if we are going to fight this.  And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” No senseless experiments. No sensationalism. No easy headlines, no thrills. Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew – “”Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:13-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬. Jesus was again speaking from personal experience.  Jesus could have gone through the wide and easy gate.  He could have given us all the “things”, cut a few corners, made a quick deal, created some crazy headlines and announced “I’m here!!” He could have chosen the world’s method of power and glory.

But Jesus knew these ways would never last. Instead, He chose the way of service and suffering. He chose the way of suffering and the cross. Because the way of suffering leads to the cross, but the cross leads the crown.
Think about this – this story could only have come from Jesus lips. There were no disciples, no followers. Just the Son of the Father, come into His creation as part of creation. He spent forty days in a devastated wilderness, trying to come to grips with His purpose, and how to go about fulfilling that purpose. The temptation was there to take the easy road. Just a little compromise, no need to go to that cross. No need to suffer. Just give the people what they want!!
But this is the story of hard choices. It is a sacred story, recorded by men, but told directly to them by God incarnate. It is the story of choosing the narrow gate which leads to life. Thirteen short verses for us, forty long days for Jesus. Temptation and choices that changed human history.
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.'” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'” And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭4:1-13‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/luk.4.1-13.esv
John Lewis

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