Jan 13 2019 Luke - Trusting through Testing - The Wilderness
17th January 2019
This is a very familiar section when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness.
Luke 4:1 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." 4 And Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone.'"
Last week, we looked at Jesus’ baptism – and how the Holy Spirit fell on Him – and now this same Spirit leads Jesus into the Wilderness.
The wilderness is a place of testing – first for the people of Israel – and then for Jesus. Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness – Jesus spent 40 days. We’ll see how these come together. Temptation – testing – is more than just being tempted to eat something. But the purpose of the ‘test’ is to prove who Jesus is. Like taking a test in school – is to prove that you have studied!
First – this is to prove that He is the Son of God – the quality of WHO Jesus is. Where Israel failed, Jesus will be victorious.
The other point of the temptations – is to test whether Jesus would turn away from His purpose and mission. It will confirm his purpose and mission. There are 3 specific temptations. Before we look at each –
Jesus is both the continuation and fulfillment of the people of Israel – and we will see that Jesus is the true Israel – He will be everything that Israel was MEANT to be.
Each of the tests – have direct parallels in the Exodus story with Israel.
And we won’t spend a lot of time on this – but there are also direct parallels to Adam and Eve’s testing in the Garden – where humanity failed – Jesus succeeded. We were created in the image of God – Jesus is the perfect image of God.
The first test – when He was hungry – it doesn’t mean He is hungry for a snack – He is on the verge of starvation. The devil comes to Him when He is in a very weak state. Doesn’t he know when to come after us? That is why a daily preparation is necessary.
IF you are the Son of God…
The attack is on Jesus’ very identity.
When the Spirit descended – the voice spoke, saying, this is My beloved Son… - and then He is led into the wilderness and His identity is first tempted – IF you are the Son of God.
The temptation is to satisfy His natural hunger without depending on the Father. But Jesus lives a life completely dependent on the Father. Our tendency is to use human means to be satisfied. Or to satisfy our desires outside of God’s ways.
This could also be moved into doing God’s work outside of God’s ways.
The devil is also tempting Him outside of His mission. He is saying – if you are the Son of God – you shouldn’t have to suffer. That will be the temptation to Jesus all along.
There is another story – Peter – You are the Christ – and Jesus says – Right! You got it – and then Jesus began saying how He had to suffer and die – and Peter says – May it never be – and Jesus says – Get behind Me, Satan!
It is the same thing.
Henri Nouwen – The temptation to be relevant: An overdependence on our personal abilities – personality, ingenuity, charm, skill, money – rather than trust and dependence on God. Jesus had the ability to turn stones into bread – but Jesus trusted in God.
We need to ask ourselves how we do this? Do we do it in our job or ministry?
For me – this sounds like bragging – but it is the opposite. I’ve been doing ministry for 37 years – and I know how to do resources and study scripture – I have been trained over the years – and the problem – sometimes it is easy to just rely on that! But preaching a sermon or doing ministry must be a work of God – doing things God’s way. I have to STOP – and allow God to speak as God would want to speak or to do as He would want to do. It is His ministry and His church – and He knows what He wants to do and we need to step back and allow God. Be still – and know that I am God.
The parallel passage:
Deut. 8:2 "You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 "He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.
Temptation number 2:
Luke 4:5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time,
I’ve always thought it was funny that He could view all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time!
6 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. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." 8 And Jesus answered him, "It is written, "'You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'"
With this temptation – the interesting thing – Jesus – everything about Him – has already been given all of this – it is His. It will all be given to Him. So the temptation is to seize power and influence apart from God’s ways – take it ourselves! Grab it! Rather than allow God to give it to us. The goal is to get Jesus to worship him – the devil –
The connection is Israel and the Golden Calf – the people get bored and impatient – so they worship an idol.
The Third test:
Luke 4:9 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, 10 for it is written, "'He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,' 11 and "'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" 12 And Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'"
Now for me, this is a difficult one. What does this exactly mean, putting God to the test? I don’t think He is talking about doubting – or even questioning – if you read the Psalms – and I’m sure you have – look at all the questioning of God there is in the Psalms. We think we can never say, O God, why are you doing this?
I don’t think that is what is going on here – I think He is trying to get Jesus to be the one in control, making God His servant, rather than us being God’s servant. In testing God, we try to become the one in control of the relationship. That will not work.
I think one way we do this is to test God’s love in the wrong way. We think, if God really loves me, He will do this and that and that. But God’s love is already demonstrated in that while we were yet sinners, God died for us. There is no other test of love. That love is revealed on the cross. And He wants us to know that is all we need. There are many times He will demonstrate His love to us and for us. But all we need to know is His love is shown on the cross.
God will provide all my needs – so we can be irresponsible and not work? No, that is a test of God that is not a valid test.
Exodus 17:1 The whole community of the Israelites traveled on their journey from the Desert of Sin according to the LORD's instruction, and they pitched camp in Rephidim. Now there was no water for the people to drink. 2 So the people contended with Moses, and they said, "Give us water to drink!" Moses said to them, "Why do you contend with me? Why do you test the LORD?"
Luke 4:13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. 14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.
Satan departed from Him. Waiting for an opportune time – and we know when that opportune time was! Jesus won a great victory in the wilderness. As a result of that – He will go on and systematically tear down the powers of darkness. We all know He died to take our sins – but it is also important to know that He came to destroy the works and powers of darkness.
In Matthew and Mark – they call Jesus the son of the devil – a house divided will not stand – no one is able to enter a strong man’s house…
Every aspect of darkness in this world comes under the attack of Jesus, in one sense. We think of these as nice stories – but think of it as God removing evil from every corner. He throws over the tables in the temple – He is removing evil from this world.
We were talking in our men’s group – how the next opportune time is at the cross – and I think for a brief moment that the devil thought he had won. He breathed His last. It is over. But then, He breathed again – and it spelled the demise of Satan.
We all have our thing – anxiety, stress, addiction – but Jesus, on the cross, and in His life, destroyed the power of evil in this world. We won’t know its fulfillment until the end – but we can begin to experience that in our lives – it is a step by step thing – but God wants us to have victory in the very things we want to have victory in. He wants to come alongside us and strengthen and encourage us.
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country.
After the wilderness, Jesus is empowered for ministry. Jesus being human – and the one who is the very image of God:
Hebrews 1:3 And He (Jesus) is the radiance of His (God’s) glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
Gregory of Nissa – one of the early church fathers – it would have been understood like a lamp or lantern – they would light the lantern. This is like the flame of a lantern – the light goes out. The flame cannot exist without light – and the light cannot exist without the flame. The two are connected in every way – one and the same – but they are two. But in every way – completely united with one another. And the flame comes in – the light goes out from the flame.
Jesus is the image of God. We are God’s images on this earth – His representatives -and as we go through Luke, we will see what it means to live in the image of God – there are certain things that are specific to Jesus – but there is so much there that we are to become – like Him in every way.