Springboarding off of the Apostle Paul’s life focus, clearly expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:2, Pastor Greg launched an “open-ended” message series on January 12th, 2020 – focusing on “Just Jesus.” He is walking us through the entire New Testament, pulling passages from the Old Testament for context, and keep us focused throughout the year on “Just Jesus.” This week he covers Matthew 4:1-11, retelling the Jesus’ three temptations in the wilderness.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry. ~ Matthew 4:1-2
Remember, Jesus, while still God, had also come to earth as a 100% human being. He was 100% God AND He was 100% human at the same time. That doesn’t add up to 200%. It is a divine paradox but it is absolutely true. While Jesus walked the earth, God’s power and wisdom flowed through Him, certainly! But, He lived His 33 years as a human being who, just like us, needed to eat, needed water, needed to sleep, needed friendship, needed love. He came, representing the entire human race.
… since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:14-16
What is fasting and why was Jesus fasting?
Fasting, in once sense, just means abstaining from food, but fasting also has a long spiritual practice tradition in Judaism and Christianity. Biblical fasting can be defined as abstaining from food for spiritual purposes. Fasting is the practice of denying one’s flesh of its earthly desires to devotedly seek the Lord. The practice is found throughout Scripture and generally is practiced by complete abstinence of food for a determined amount of time. The desired outcome of fasting is a stronger spirit and a deeper focus on God instead of earthly matters.
Christian fasting, at its root, is the hunger of a homesickness for God. Christian fasting is not only the spontaneous effect of superior satisfaction in God, it is also a chosen weapon against every force in the world that would take that satisfaction away. ~ John Piper in “Hunger For God”
WHY FORTY DAYS?
The number 40, in the Bible, generally symbolizes, a time of preparation, preparing a person, or a group of people, to make a fundamental change in their life or to begin a new, important stage of life. It is a time of testing or trial or probation or even judgment. With the expected result of renewal after the 40 is complete.
Three is a big symbolic number in Hebrew thought as well. Three is an intensifier. The epitome of something in Hebrew thought. God is Holy, Holy, Holy. The eagle in Revelation cries out Woe, Woe, Woe. Similarly, Jesus is not just tempted. He is tempted, tempted, tempted. He is tempted to the uttermost.
The First Temptation: This is The Physical Temptation: Do What Will Make You Feel Good. Look out for number one.
And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’” ~ Matthew 4:3-4
The Second Temptation: This is The Emotional Temptation: Question Question God’s Love and Provision for You.
Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “IF You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” ~ Matthew 4:5-7
The Third Temptation: This is The Power Temptation. Use your power to control others and gain riches and luxury beyond belief.
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.” 1Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’” ~ Matthew 4:8-10
Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him. ~ Matthew 4:11
Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you… ~ James 4:7-8a
Matthew says the angels began to MINISTER to Jesus.
MINISTER is the Greek word διακονέω ~ diakoneó.
It means to serve, to minister to.
THIS WEEK’S TAKEAWAY(S)
1) No one is exempt from temptation. Not even Jesus.
2) Temptation is not the same as sin. It is not a sin to be tempted or to feel temptation.
3) Respond to temptation with God’s Word.
4) Resist the devil in the power of the Holy Spirit.
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:4
5) Pursue God’s will, not your own.
Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done. ~ Luke 22:42