[rest·awe] youth talk – Temptation of Jesus Part 3

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 Talk – Temptation of Jesus part 3


Matthew 4:8-10

The next section we are going to look at is the third way that the Devil tries to tempt Jesus. If you remember the first way Jesus was fasting in the wilderness and the Devil tried to get him to use his power as the Son of God to make life easier for himself, for his own ends. When that didn’t work the Devil escalated his game and took him to the temple in Jerusalem, in order to get Jesus to test God is really there for him by forcing God to save him. But that also didn’t work. Now, the Devil is going to take him to a mountain with a view that looks out over multiple kingdoms, with hundreds of cities.

Listen as I read verses 8 and 9 for how the Devil uses his words I an attempt to manipulate Jesus.

8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Satan offers Jesus rule over the whole world. This suggests that the Devil is in control of the whole world, and that it was his to give. This is partly true, but we have to remember that it is in the devil’s nature to offer that which he doesn’t own. Just think back to when we did Genesis, where the serpent suggested that Adam and Eve eat the fruit from the tree, even though he had no right to offer such a thing to them.

God gave humans rule over the earth. But when man disobeyed God, they let evil come in, and as a result they subjected themselves to the Devil, “giving” him control. In this way, the Devil feels like he has dominion over humanity, and so he says that he has the authority to give Jesus the kingdoms of the world.

So you can see how the Devil is very cunning, and can manipulate the truth. And he knows what Jesus has come to do. His ultimate goal here is to stop Jesus fulfilling the scriptures and becoming the saviour that he came to be. The Devil figures that if he can’t physically stop Jesus, he could form some sort of agreement with him. Jesus was tempted to avoid the sufferings of the cross, which he came to Earth to endure. He was offered a way out, an easy shortcut to rule over the earth.

It’s kind of like ads on those TV shopping channels. They’ll show you a blender and say it’s worth hundreds of dollars, but for a limited time they’ll give it to you for $20. And they’ll throw in all this other free stuff, adding to the value, but only if you call up right away and give them your details.

Satan’s proposition offers what appears to be something of great value, but for a minimal cost. He tempts us with all of these benefits, if we only do this one thing. But that one thing will turn into another, and another until it causes us to turn away from God.

I want you to think about times when you have been offered something that seems good or something that you really want in return for you doing something bad. Maybe you could fit in with the cool kids at school if you went along with them to do something you know you shouldn’t. Maybe it was more of a mental struggle, like watching a good movie that has been pirated illegally.

It is human nature to desire worldly things, and two things that we desire most are happiness and control. We want to be able to control our own lives, be happy in this lifetime, be in control of what we have and enjoy what we do with our lives.

Satan knows this and that’s what he offered to Jesus, control over all the kingdoms of the earth.

And like how Satan tells Jesus that all he has to do is bow down to him, we are told that all we have to do to be successful is to study hard, to get good marks, to get into the right university course, and to get into a high paying job. And once we are in this position, then we’ll be happy and in control of our lives.

The Devil makes it seem like this isn’t a big deal. This is what everybody else does, why should you be any different?

Jesus’ response to the Devil’s offer, like his response to the last offer, completely shuts down the Devil and his ulterior motives. He explains in one sentence why we should be different.

Verse 10 says:

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

Satan asked for only one thing, but that one thing was the most crucial act of all. He asked to be worshipped. He tried to make it seem like a trivial thing to do “I’ll give you all this if you just do this one thing for me”. Jesus however, understands the importance of worship. He knows that if he worships Satan he would be acknowledging that Satan has more power than him, and would mean he would have to serve Satan. Jesus quotes scripture to stress that that is not what God wants, and emphasises his role as God’s son.

Like Jesus, as Christians we need to be able to determine what we are told to worship in society, and understand that God is the only one we should worship. To worship something means to be devoted to it, to adore it, to revere it. It might not be obvious, but there are things in everybody’s lives that we are devoted to and strive to gain. For some, it could be money, for others it could be popularity, or your boyfriend or girlfriend, or your job, or your school marks. We worship these things because we think they will make us happy and put us in control.

Worshipping God could mean sacrificing some of these things. When you serve God and put him first it could mean that you’re not with the most popular kids, or you don’t have the most money or the highest paying job.

The question we then have to ask is “Is it worth it?”. It is clear in the passage that Satan knows that one day, Jesus will rule over a new, heavenly kingdom, and so he tries to stop Jesus by offering an easier way to a lesser result. But Jesus knew what was to come, and even though he knew what he would go through on the cross he trusted that the end result will be far greater. He knew that the cross is the path to the crown. This shows us that suffering is the pathway to glory. Because of this, we can know that sometimes taking the easy way, or going with the flow, might mean compromising some of our Christian values, but when we understand this and choose to follow God’s will instead, to look to the cross instead of giving in to the devil, the end result will be far more worthwhile.

Even though he rejected the Devils offer of immediate dominion, he knew that he will receive even more by staying devoted to God and his plan.

In the same way, we can know that we will receive eternal happiness in heaven. We can reject earthly things that people worship and instead worship God, because in the end we will receive what he promises us. It is only when we put God in control of our lives that we can be truly happy.

It would be like if you had to do a research project for school, and one of your friends offered to do it for you, or give them their work for you to copy. If you accepted it, it may make your life easier or have more fun during the small period of time when you were supposed to be researching yourself, but in the long run you are going to have no idea how to answer any questions related to that research, when an exam comes around you won’t do anywhere near as well. It is far better to do the hard work now, to sacrifice that bit of spare time or enjoyment you might gain from doing something else, to make your life easier and better in the future. Wouldn’t it?

 Tonight we have talked about three ways the Devil tried to tempt Jesus. Each time, Jesus fought back with a passage from scripture. In fact, all three quotes were from a similar section of the Bible, from Deuteronomy. For those that don’t know, Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Bible, and literally means “the Second Law”. Jesus uses his knowledge of God’s Laws to know exactly the right thing to do in each situation.

For us to be able to defeat temptation, we need to read the Bible to know what God wants us to do in each situation, because temptation can be met with the truth that comes from scripture.

Whether we are tempted to not love other people like we should, to be greedy or wasteful with our money, to not go to church or youth group because we think have something better to do, if we are tempted to test God or doubt God or to idolise or worship something other than him, we can turn to Bible. And if we are still unsure we can pray to God to give us wisdom and know that he has a plan for each of us that will result in eternal happiness in heaven.

Alright so we are going to go into small groups soon, but before we do, I’ll give you some more time to reflect on this third temptation. So think about things that you might worship or devote your life to instead of God, and then maybe share with the person next to you or discuss some ways you can focus on worshipping God and trusting his plan instead of seeking immediate happiness and control.

Written by Christian Damtoft.

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