February 11, 2018
We are in our second week of “I am Jesus.” It is a series that takes a look at what Jesus did for us to save us. Last week we saw how he identified with us taking responsibility for our sin. Today we continue by seeing that he is the one who battles for us.
I want you to consider this question. Do you like to win or lose? I think we’d all say we like to win. Nobody likes to lose. Nobody hopes that their team loses the Superbowl. Even teams that are tanking so that get a higher draft pick really don’t like to lose. They don’t show up to the stadium and say, “Man, I can’t wait to watch us lose today.” Nobody likes to lose. We like to win. Some of us, me included, actually hate to lose more than we like to win. The emotion we have over losing is more than the emotion of winning.
And sometimes we even trick ourselves into thinking we’ve won when we’ve really lost. I was playing a game with my nephew one time. He said he won because he got all the pawns home, but he didn’t follow the rules. So he didn’t really win, but he convinced himself that he won. We all like to win.
When it comes battling the devil and temptations, do we win or do we lose? If you’re like me, you lose quite a bit. We may notice that we are struggling in one area and so we put our focus and attention there. And we fight and we win, but on the other side we’ve lost. So we focus over there but then in another area we lose. But sometimes we go so far as to convince ourselves we’ve won. We lay down at night and we convince ourselves that we’ve won, but God knows that we’ve lost.
It might surprise you, but Jesus himself was tempted. He came and endured the same battle that we face on a daily basis. But there was a big difference between our battle and his battle. Our battle only affects us. We lose, its only we who lose. But with Jesus, everyone is affect.
What happens to Jesus happens to us.
If he says no to all the devil’s temptations, we get heaven, love, forgiveness; we get to reenter the presence of God without burning up. But if he loses to temptation and sins just once, God will look at you and me and be forced to be fair. Every word we’ve ever spoken, every thought we’ve had, he’ll look at all the motivations of our heart, and there’d be nothing stopping his judgment. There’d be nothing left from him casting us out of his presence for all eternity.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a]by the devil.
This was Jesus vs. the Devil. One on one. No disciples to encourage Jesus. No support whatsoever. He’s by himself against the devil for this battle. This is actually the second battle Jesus and the devil had. Soon after God created the world, the devil, who had been created a good angel, rebelled. He tried to overthrow God and take the throne. The devil was cast out of heaven and has since then roamed the earth.
Things are different this time though. Now Jesus is not just God but he’s also a man, able to be tempted. Weak like a human. Last time the battle was on Jesus’ home turf, but this time Satan had home field advantage where the devil prowls. On this turf, the devil has never lost. Again, whatever happens to Jesus happens to us. It’s here in the wilderness that the battle begins.
2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Think how hugry you are when dinner comes around and you haven’t eaten since lunch. You get irritable, frustrated, your patience is gone, you can’t concentrate as well. You get angry. In fact, we’ve actually come up with a word for that, “Hangry”. That means you’re so hungry you’re angry. Hence, hangry. Jesus hasn’t eaten in 40 days. How well do you think you’d do against temptations? You’re quite literally starving. Fatigued. And no one else is around to see you. No one will ever know what you do, think, or say, except you, the devil, and God. Then Satan throws his first punch. “If you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” It’s a tricky temptation. Seems pretty innocent. But behind it is questioning God and doubting him.
Round 1: Stop trusting
Jesus was just baptized right before this. At that moment, God declared him to be his Son whom he loved with him he is well pleased. So the devil attacks him and his trust for God. “If you are the Son of God, you shouldn’t have to suffer like this. You’re starving to death! You can’t trust God to provide for you. After all, he’s made you go hungry for 40 days. Turn these stones into bread and eat!”
Satan loves to jab us with this temptation as well. When we are struggling and everything seems to be going wrong for us, we’re tempted to doubt God’s love for us. Money is tight, and we get nervous about it. There are so many things to pay for the kids, for us, not to mention regular bills. We’ve prayed that God helps us with the situation, but the situation isn’t getting better. And so we stop trusting God. We tried the prayer and bible study thing and God wasn’t providing. We pick up extra shifts at work at the expense of worship, bible study, and personal devotions because God isn’t paying the bills; money is. We doubt God and trust money. We get in a situation where if we tell the truth, we are going to risk losing our job or it’ll ruin a friendship. Instead of trusting God to provide and take care of us, or mend a broken heart, we lie. We know that God is the Great Protector, but we don’t quite trust him to protect. Our hearts are still restless. So we install a security system and we trust in it. Now our hearts are at rest because the system will keep us safe. We end up questioning God’s love for us and his control in our life. But notice how Jesus responded.
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Jesus dodges the devil’s punch and wins round number one. How? By attacking with the Word. Jesus quotes Scripture, and he lets Satan know that it wouldn’t matter if he had all the bread in the world, if God didn’t want him to live, he wouldn’t live. He was alive and going because God kept his body going. Because it is not food that keeps his body going, but the fact that God’s tells his body to keep going every second of the day. Round one, Satan tempted him to stop trusting God. After Satan picked himself up off the dusty desert floor, round two began. he tried a different tactic.
Round 2: Tempt
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’[a]”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’[b]”
Satan takes Jesus’ response and runs with it, “Hey, if you believe that your life is in God’s hands and that he will continue to keep your life going by his providence, test it. Make him prove it. Think of the name you’d make for yourself, Jesus. Think of the following you’re going to have after this. Oh and by the way, Jesus, you’re into quoting Scripture, here’s a passage for you…” And he pulls a verse out of the Bible and quotes it. But what did Satan do? He ripped these verses right out of context and misapplied them.
He tempts us with the same thing doesn’t he? “Hey, if God’s grace covers everything, you can sin all you want. Because at the end of the day God will forgive you anyway. No big deal.” God’s love and his grace is unconditional, but that doesn’t mean we can twist Scripture to make it fit what we want.
Notice what Jesus does. He lets Scripture interpret Scripture, and he quotes from the Old Testament where the Israelites had the same exact attitude of tempting God. There God reminded the people through Moses, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” And that’s what Satan was tempting Jesus to do. He was tempting him to make God prove himself. Jesus dodged, and landed another punch of his own. Once again, Satan lay on the dusty desert floor. Anger brewing up inside of him. Instead of tempting God, Jesus trusted his Word.
But Satan had one more punch to throw, and this punch was a sucker punch.
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.”
Round 3: Worship a false God.
This last temptation was arguably the hardest. Satan takes Jesus up to a high mountain to show him the kingdoms of the world. The same kingdoms that Jesus came to save. The kingdoms he came to battle Satan for. And Satan says to him, “Look, the battle can be over. I will give you all of this. It can all be yours. You don’t have to suffer any longer. You don’t have to die. You don’t have to be embarrassed through the crucifixion process. All you have to do Jesus is bow down and worship me for a second. Then this is yours.”
Powerful temptation isn’t it? He could skirt suffering, pain, and shame, and still get what he came to accomplish. Yet like ever temptation, Satan is the master of vain hope and empty promises. If Jesus would have bowed down, Jesus would have become Satan’s slave. We would still be under the slavery to Satan and would have lost all hope of being free.
He tempts us the same way doesn’t he? You want to be well rested for the upcoming week? Sleep in on Sunday. Worship your pillow, worship Satan, worship yourself, he doesn’t care as long as it is not God. You want your kids to have the best and nicest things, you want your kids to fit in with others around you, no problem! Just charge it! Everyone wracks up debt anyways! You want people around you to like you, give up your integrity! Watch the shows that aren’t God pleasing, talk poorly about the leaders of this country, about your teacher or parents, use bad language, live the party life. The devil promises that we can have it all. We can have friends. We can fit in. We can have it all. We just have to give up worshiping God.
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’[a]”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Jesus said, “No Satan. I only serve and worship God alone. Not just once a week for an hour, not just when I feel like it, but always. I keep the first commandment perfectly. Even if God leads me to suffering and pain, I will honor and worship him. So get behind me. Leave me.” And with one swift uppercut, he knocked Satan out. He got up and scampered away.
So what’s the point? Why is this written here? At first our minds want to go and look at what Jesus did. We see he quoted Scripture in every temptation and we think, “My take away is that I need to memorize Scripture so that I can quote it when I’m tempted.” And there’s some truth to that. It is good to have Scripture memorized. But that’s not the main point. This is written that we may know for a fact that Jesus battled every temptation for us. He said “no” to every temptation that we said “yes” too and every temptation we will say yes too. This is our Jesus, who battled for us. And remember what happens to Jesus happens to us. He won, and that makes us winners.
Jesus’ prize is our prize
Every single second of Jesus’ life he battled Satan’s temptations perfectly. He won the battle against the devil, and he received the prize of a winner. God looked at him and was well pleased, God delighted in him. He was genuinely happy to be with him. God loved to hear from Jesus when he prayed to God. He heard and answered all of his prayers. He healed Jesus’ broken heart. He crowned him with everlasting life and gave him his kingdom bringing him back into the presence of God. Where he saw God face to face and is eternally loved by God. This is the prize of a perfect winner. One who battles temptations perfectly. And his prize is now ours.
Because Jesus battled for us and lived perfectly, his prize is your prize. God is pleased with you because he only sees you as perfect. Your sins are forgiven. Not only are they gone, but God sees you as only a winner against all temptations. He hears every one of your prayers. Every single prayer you pray he gladly hears. He delights in you. Think about that! He doesn’t put up with you but sincerely delights in you and wants to spend time with you. He mends your broken hearts. He crowns you with everlasting life. He’s going to raise you from the dead, and he’s going to give you a new and glorious body. And then he’s going to bring you back into his presence forever. You’ll see God face to face. You’ll have that perfect relationship with him forever. Why? Because Jesus’ prize is your prize.
When you go home today, take a bar of soap and draw a cross on your mirror. That way every time you look at yourself you are look at you the way God looks at you: through the cross of Christ. He sees a winner because Jesus won for you. Every time you look into that mirror know that you are a winner because of Jesus. His prize is your prize now and forever.