January 19, 2020

Sermon for Epiphany Two, Sunday January 19, 2020

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Passage: Luke 4:1-11
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Sermon for Epiphany Two – Sunday January 19, 2020
Calvary/Marquette

Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Luke 4:1-13 (NKJV)
1 Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ” 5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” 8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ” 9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, 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 shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ 11 and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ” 12 And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ” 13 Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

In the Name of Jesus Christ,
Who was tempted, yet did not sin,
Who can help us when tempted,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –

In 1896, a Congregationalist Preacher by the name of Charles Sheldon wrote a novel entitled: In His Steps. This novel was inspired by a series of sermons he had preached to his congregation in Topeka, KS. It sounds like a good book until you learn what he meant by ‘in his steps.’ As it turns out, Charles Sheldon believed that Jesus was more of a moral figure than a savior; a person to be imitated more than trusted.

He subtitled his book, “What would Jesus do?”

What would Jesus do? The question has become a gimmick of sorts among some Christians today. It’s not a bad question to ask, but when we do let’s admit that what Jesus would do and what we do…are rarely, if ever, the same. The Problem is, sometimes those who ask (including Charles Sheldon) “What would Jesus do” leave the impression that we can do what Jesus would do.

The truth is, Jesus did what we wouldn’t and couldn’t do.

Jesus didn’t just come down from heaven merely to ‘show us the way to live.’ He came down to save us from Satan, from sin and eternal death by doing what we couldn’t do. “How does God want me to live?” is an important question. But as sinners who can’t measure up to God’s glory, a better question is: ”What did Jesus do?”

For the sake of spiritual instruction, this morning, let’s see how we’d have fared under the same temptations Jesus faced. Let’s see if we would have done what Jesus did… only then will we be led to thank God that we have forgiveness because of what Jesus did. May God the Holy Spirit be with us, that we may see both our sins and our Savior. Amen.
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Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 being tempted for forty days by the devil.

It’s tempting (no pun intended) to ask first: “Would we have gone into the wilderness in the first place?” The reason that Jesus turned from His baptism at the Jordan and proceeded into the wilderness was because He was following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

This Scripture tells us that Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit and led by that Spirit into the wilderness. It was while Jesus was in the wilderness that he was tempted to sin by the Devil. God had revealed His Chosen Savior at the Jordan River, and the devil sought to break Him through temptation.

It was different for Jesus than for us in one respect.

The Devil had to attack Jesus with temptation from the outside, not the inside. Jesus didn’t have a sinful human nature like we do. He didn’t have sinful thoughts or sinful desires. He was like us…but He wasn’t corrupt, rotten, and sinful on the inside.

We have sinful natures. Temptations to sin come from within us. We sin in heart and thought and in mind. Very often we put ourselves in bad positions and are tempted because we don’t watch out for it. We know our weaknesses, but still surround ourselves with temptation! We don’t need Satan to personally tempt us; we lead ourselves into temptation and sin! Scripture says (James 1:13-15):

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

While Jesus was in the wilderness, He was tempted by the Devil. The Scripture before us offers three examples, three temptations with which Satan tempted Jesus.

We don’t have to ask ‘What would Jesus do’ because we have the flawless record of Scripture which indicates exactly what Jesus did. Instead, let’s honestly ask ourselves --

What if we had been in Jesus’ sandals?
What would I have done…what would you have done?
Let’s consider first the temptation…

And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. 3 And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”

Jesus of Nazareth spent roughly a month and a half (40 days) in the wilderness, and during that time He ate nothing. Naturally, after 40 days, He was hungry and physically weak.

The Devil tempted Him with food. He chose a stone, and suggested that if Jesus really was who the voice from heaven said he was; then he should turn the stone into bread and eat.

Was the Devil concerned about Jesus’ health and well-being? Do you think that he wanted the best for Jesus and for us? NO! He opposes all that is good, and is the father of lies.

Was it wrong for the Devil to suggest that Jesus eat? Is there something wrong with self-preservation? Aren’t we to take care of ourselves?

Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? So suppose that you had all power and could change in-animate objects into food. Let’s suppose you spent 40 days without food and were starving…would you snap your fingers and make rock a warm buttered slice of fresh bread to prolong your life?

Would you have trusted the Father to provide or would you have turned the stone to bread?

Jesus was sent from heaven to put the needs of others first, to humble Himself and lay down his life for all humankind. He refused to turn aside from that purpose even for a moment to put his own needs first.

Would we have done what Jesus did? We are sinful, selfish and self-centered. We regularly put our own needs and desires first, even before the Will of God. If we had been in Jesus’ sandals…we would NOT have done what Jesus did.

4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’ ”

We need more than food to live. We need spiritual food to keep the soul alive. The Word of God is the only nourishing spiritual food. God help us that we never diet when it comes to our faith!

What if we had been in Jesus’ sandals?
Shall we consider another temptation?

5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.”

So what if you were offered all earthly power, authority and riches? You could have everything you ever wanted every day! You would never have to choose carefully within the bounds of a budget whether to purchase this or that. You’d never have to work another day, but others would wait on you hand and foot.

Who wants that?

What if you could have the last say in everything? What if what you said became law? You would have no human equal. There is just one little catch --

All you have to do is fall down and worship, give glory to something or someone who isn’t God. What would you do? Would you choose poverty and forever remain unknown? Would you be tempted or would you stand up on your soapbox and say with the hymn writer: “I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!” Talk is cheap.

Now before you say: “I’d never forsake my LORD in order to gain power, authority and riches.” Let’s honestly consider the things we have done or left undone because of peer pressure or fear? Have you ever done something you regretted to fit in? Ever been silent rather than risk being labeled or picked on? Ever justify your cowardice by calling it ‘fighting battles you can win?’

What would you choose if you could have everything or a life of nothing? Once again, what we would do…is not what Jesus did.

8 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Jesus didn’t consider it for a millisecond. We have been given life and a living relationship with the one true God that we might serve Him with every breath. But we are unfaithful every day. We are selfish. We seek our own.

Jesus did…what we don’t; He perfectly loved God and served him so that through faith in Him we stand forgiven for our unfaithfulness, for our offenses.

What if we had been in Jesus’ sandals?
Shall we consider the final example?

9 Then he brought Him to Jerusalem, 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 shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you,’ 11 and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

This one is an easy one, right? I hate heights! I’d have no problem saying: “I’m not jumping, get me off of here!”

But we ever lived spiritually reckless…or as some put it, ‘live life to the fullest?’ Do we choose spiritually harmful paths because we think we can handle the temptation?

Have you ever said: “I can live as I want because God has promised to make everything work out for my good..?

Have you ever said: “I can sin this way, because God will forgive me?”

Do you think you could ever say: “Everyone has to die…and so I choose to die this way, living my own life.”

Isn’t this also putting God to the test? Once again, what we do is not what Jesus did:

And Jesus answered and said to him, “It has been said, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’

What would Jesus do? Let’s not deceive ourselves into thinking that we would choose the right thing on our own.

When we find that we have chosen the right spiritual path, let’s glorify God, because it’s the Spirit of God who so guides and empowers us.

When we sin, when we do what Jesus never did….let us look away from ourselves and our deeds to what Christ has done. All praise and honor and glory be to God for his Son, who lived without sin as our substitute, doing all that was necessary to redeem us to God.

NOT – What would Jesus do...but what did Jesus do!
Amen.