Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11
Jesus said, “Lead us not into temptation.” Jesus meant to pray that you don’t have to face temptations. But we face them every day. We place ourselves in situations where we are tempted, and temptations seek us out. We are weak and will give in at some time. But Jesus never give in to temptations.
So, we should follow his lead when we face temptations. We should look at how Jesus faced temptations. We should learn from his example. When we face temptations, which we do, we can resist them strongly.
The first temptation Jesus faced was to turn stones into bread. Jesus had been fasting in the wilderness for forty days and was starving. To turn stones to bread is a very simple thing for the Son of God. He would say something like this, “Turn into bread you stone,” and it does!
But Jesus knew he was not on earth to feed his belly. He was in the desert to prepare his life for the battles ahead. He was there to fast and pray so that he could go and reveal the coming of the Kingdom of God. He would die and rise again to bring that Kingdom into being.
We face the same basic temptation. It is the temptation to satisfy our hungers and appetites with cheap substitutes. Jesus would not starve to death. He was in the desert and he hungered and thirsted for the guidance of his Father. But the Devil offered a cheap substitute in its place.
That’s how the Devil tempts us! That is why some people drink or take drugs instead of dealing with their emotional problems. It is much easier to numb yourself then to really examine your problems. That’s why some people overdose because they are depressed! It is so much easier to fill your empty belly than to fill your empty heart and soul.
Jesus’ response is enlightening. He says, “Humans don’t live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Jesus doesn’t disregard that the physical appetites are not important. They are a part of us. But they are not a substitute for the basic need for God. Yes, physical food keeps our bodies alive, but we need God to live.
Jesus’ second temptation was to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple so that all would see that he was the Son of God. It must have been hard for Jesus. Can you imagine what it was like?
Jesus is the author of the universe. The religious leaders were ignoring and even persecuting him. He was there to show them what God was all about. If he did what the Devil said maybe they would listen for a change.
Jesus noticed if he listened to the Devil he is doing his own pride. He was sent to tell people about God, but not throwing himself down from the temple. He wanted to show people the power of God, not his own power.
Jesus responded, “Again, it is written, do not tempt the Lord your God.” We all want to be noticed for what we achieve. We are tempted to say, “Look at me what I can do.” When they were small, our sons liked to show us what they can do and they say, “Look at me Mommy/Daddy, look at me.” We looked and applauded when they accomplished something because it built their self-esteem. But Jesus reminds us we need to recognize where self-esteem ends and pride begins.
The secret to Jesus’ response is the recognition of the temptation for what it was. Jesus noticed that and named it. He told the Devil, “Don’t test the Lord your God.” We need to realize when we are being tempted by pride and name it just as Jesus did. We have to open our eyes and recognize where self-esteem ends and pride begins.
The third temptation was to worship and seek after earthly power. The Devil said, “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus was the rightful King of Kings. But the Devil had temporary power over many thrones. The Devil was a pretender to the throne of the King of Kings. The Devil was offering to give up that throne.
We are tempted to worship earthly thing instead of seeking heavenly. We worship our earthly jobs and careers instead of serving God. We seek earthly power and riches instead of storing up treasures in heaven.
We learn from Jesus’ responses. Jesus told the Devil where to go! Christians don’t realize that we have that power. We don’t realize that we have Christ’s power to say, “In the name of Jesus, leave! And get out!”
The third part of Jesus response was “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” We need to keep in mind the ultimate goal of all our actions. We are to worship God! It’s all about God! Not us.
Lead us not into temptation. We should pray that our life will not put into temptation. When we are tempted, remember Jesus’ response. Be careful when we are being offered a cheap substitute for what we really need. “We live by the word of God and not by bread alone.” Be careful when our pride is being fed. Let us keep in mind that all our actions should serve to glorify God. Shalom and Amen!