An Encounter with the Overcomer of Temptation Part 2 (Luke 4:5-13)
Thanks for your prayers for us for at the conference. I thought it was very useful and beneficial for us. In the days to come, I hope to share with you some of my thoughts for application for our church.
We are going back to Luke 4 and finish up an encounter we were looking at a couple of weeks ago. If you remember, we said that this encounter was not really a manual on how to defeat temptation. Have you ever seen how they come out with a DVD set of a world championship team? They want people to relive the glory of the team that came out on top. As you watch the first game to the day they got the trophy, you are amazed at how they defeated at times, what seemed to be better teams and persevered through everything to get to the end. And if the team happened to be your team, you definitely make sure you buy the dvd and show it to all who would enter your home. You would soak in the envy of those who wished their team was like your team. Perhaps the hardcore fan would rub each great play in your face. “See that move! Amazing! Isn’t he the best player for that position?”
For lack of a better analogy, that is what is going on here in Luke 4. Luke is showing the highlight reel of the Champion Jesus Christ. God had teams before. Team Adam didn’t make it past the first quarter. Team Israel, like the Cubs (sorry Cub fans) never make it when it counts. They all failed. But Jesus comes on the scene and blows everyone else out of the water. He is the only one who got it right. He is the only one qualified to be worshipped and followed. Therefore, the response he wants from you and me is a commitment to follow Him because of who He is and what He has done.
Last time, we asked the question, “Why should we put our confidence in Jesus as our Leader?” We said first of all,
I. Because He overcame the temptation of self-sufficiency (Luke 4:1-4).
Both Adam and Israel failed to live dependent on God. Both desired control of their own lives and wanting to live apart from God. Jesus steps up and shows us that it is more important to obey God than to satisfy one’s self.
Now secondly in Luke 4:5-8, we should put our confidence in Jesus as our Leader:
II. Because He overcame the temptation of false worship (Luke 4:5-8).
Matthew and Luke switch the order of temptations here. Luke mentions the temple at the end, but Matthew ends with the kingdoms temptation. I don’t think it’s contradictory, but more due to their theological agendas. Luke is about getting Jesus to Jerusalem because Acts, his other book, will start in Jerusalem. So this could be a reason for him ending with the Temple, which is the key place in Jerusalem. However, one cannot be completely certain.
Satan steps back to plan his next move. Perhaps a change in strategy? Perhaps even a greater temptation? He is the god of this world and Jesus had called him the prince of the world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and he has the earthly kingdoms in his pocket, if you will. He digs into his pocket and counts the change and he gives him an amazing offer.
Look at Luke 4:5-6. Satan is like a prospective seller by showing Jesus the goods. We don’t know how he was able to show Jesus the kingdoms of the world in a moment…perhaps through a vision he shows the territories formerly occupied by the empires of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and now Rome with all its pomp, splendor and glory. He may have heard the flags rustling of each empire in His name. Perhaps Jesus was shown city after city and parks, palaces, and temples. Right now Rome is oppressive to God’s people, but the possibility of a government concerned only with the genuine welfare of the people? Not a bad idea!
Also, though he is the ruler of the world, ultimately everything is under God’s control. The offer precedes the conditions of the contract. Look at Luke 4:7. Satan says to break the first commandment and worship him. But wait! These are the kingdoms the Father has promised Jesus. These are the kingdoms he would one day possess (Dan. 7:14). That someday could be today. And all of tomorrow’s sufferings could be avoided. You can have the crown without the cross. No weeping over Jerusalem. No crucifixion. No pain. All he would have to do is turn his back for a moment and merely bend the knee in Satan’s direction. But it is WHO he would have to turn His back on that keeps His knees locked. He would be turning His back on His own Father. It was His Father who loves him and delights in Him. Is it worth it? How could he bend even a knee, even for a moment, in betrayal of such a relationship?
Satan has always wanted to take God’s place and receive worship (Is. 14:13-14). See how many “I will’s are mentioned there? Satan always says, “I will.” Jesus always said, “Not my will, but God’s will be done!” Frank Sinatra sang, “I did it my way!” but Jesus says, “I did it His way!”
Jesus takes the loose change and throws it in Satan’s face. Jesus answered him in verse 8, “YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD AND SERVE HIM ONLY.” This phrase is taken from Deut. 6:13. Turn there for a second and look at the next verse. There is a warning about idolatry there. We will get back to that. Here Jesus sees the THRONE ABOVE ALL THRONES. And gazing upon that, He decides to worship the only ONE worthy of praise. He will not compromise. So He will choose the way of the cross and wait for His crown.
What is at stake here? It is the temptation of false-worship. It is to be unfaithful to God and bow down to a false god. In other words, it is to be an idolater or idol worshipper. Jesus is tempted to worship something other than God.
Think about it for a second. What happened in the garden? Satan offered Eve a chance to be the ruler. It was an offer to worship themselves. Look at Gen. 3:5. Why have someone tell you what to do all the time? You should be your own authority! This is the same temptation Jesus is facing here! Result from the Garden: Failed.
Secondly, the major failure of the Israelites was their disloyalty to God. They frequently went after other gods. Remember after they saw the miracle of the Red Sea parting and the plagues upon Egypt, Moses went up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. What happened while he was up there? He was taking a long time and before you know it, the Israelites made a golden calf and started worshipping it! Let’s look at Exodus 32. Result from the Israelites: Failed.
Notice that once they decided to worship this idol, notice what is connected with false worship: resources expended (Ex. 32:6), time (Ex. 32:6), self-destruction (Ex. 32:7) and sacrifice (Ex. 32:8). Jesus makes a connection in our text between worship and service. This is because whatever you worship, you will also serve.
Look at Romans 1:20ff. Paul here talks about the downward spiral of idolatry. It starts with misguided gratitude, futile thinking, foolish feelings, foolish behavior and finally idolatry. Worship in the English literally means, “worth- -ship” meaning to “to ascribe worth to.” But when we come to “the NT, generally, [it means] to do reverence or homage to someone, usually by kneeling or prostrating oneself before him.”2 Worship is an act which acknowledges that the person or thing bowed down to is greater than the worshipper. That which is worshipped is of greater worth, and the greater power and authority than the worshipper.
Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “”A person will worship something – have no doubt about that. ..That which dominates our imaginations and our thoughts will determine our lives, and character. Therefore it behooves us to be careful what we worship, for what we are worshiping we are becoming.”
Mark Galli, in a Christianity Today article, writes about a question that a sports radio station once asked its listeners: “If somebody offered you $2 million, could you give up sports for two years?” No games on TV, radio, or in person. No sports page. No ESPN highlight films. No Tuesday morning arguing about Monday Night Football.
One fan phoned in and said no, he would definitely not give up sports, not even for $25 million. “It’s where I turn when I pick up the paper in the morning,” he said. “It’s where I go when I’m on the Internet. It’s what I watch on television. It’s what I listen to on the radio in the car. Everywhere I go, it surrounds everything I do.”
That sounds like idolatry doesn’t it? A professor of mine at Moody defined idolatry as “that which we look to quench the thirst of our hearts.” I like that! Here are some questions to consider whether there is false worship idolatry in our lives:
1. What takes up my time and thoughts?
2. What are the things I covet? (Col. 3:5)
3. Who do I thank when things go well?
4. Who do I run to when things go badly?
5. What is my source of security?
6. Where do I gain my sense of worth?
Think about the answer to these questions. This is what you worship. Idolatry does not only mean a metal thing, it can be a mental thing as well. If you worship money, guess what you will be consumed with during the week? It will be checking your bank balance and your investments and trying to gather more and more for yourself. How many of us worship success? How many parents sacrifice their children at the altar of success for their own reputation? Some of us still feel the sting of not doing enough to please them and not being successful enough? We may worship even another person by being overly dependent on that person to the point where he/she is enough and he/she is the one who meets my needs. We need to repent of these things. In the end, God says, “You are corrupting yourselves.” The word “corrupt” there means to ruin or do harm, to be destroyed.” In the end, it will end up destroying us because we are created for God alone.
We fail in our devotion and allegiance to God. We are part of Adam’s race. We are like Israel. But praise be to our Champion and Victor Jesus Christ, who only bent His knee to God the Father alone!
So why should we put our confidence in Jesus as our Leader? So far we said: Because He overcame the temptation to be self-sufficient and He overcame the temptation of false worship. Let’s praise Him for this last thing:
III. Because He overcame the temptation to test God (Luke 4:9-13).
Rebuffed, Satan steps back and regroups. Perhaps a change in scenery would help? He brings Jesus, probably in another vision, to the pinnacle of the temple in Luke 4:9. This was probably one of the battlements or towers on Herod’s royal portico at the southeastern corner, overhanging the ravine of Kidron Valley on one side. But on the other side, deep below, were the temple courts, crowded with throngs of worshippers. So He is brought to this immense tower built on the very edge of this precipice, from the top of which dizzy height Josephus says one could not look to the bottom. It is about a 450 foot drop from this point.
Satan says, “I notice you are sharp with your exegesis, I’ve been taking some classes too!” and in Luke 4:10-11, Satan misquotes Ps 91:11-12 leaving out “in all your ways.” I wonder if the devil knows more Bible verses than most Christians? The promise in Psalm 91 was given to all those who found their shelter in the Most High, but undergirded by the idea that all your ways must be all His ways. “IF YOU REALLY BELIEVE GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU,” REASONS SATAN, “LET HIM PROVE IT AND PROVE IT PUBLICLY SO EVERYONE CAN SEE.”
The temple, if you remember our study a few weeks ago, is the center of religious activity for Israel. It is where God’s presence is supposed to dwell. Surely since God is here, He will rescue His beloved Son here. The jump would be seen by all the key leaders. And the rescue would convince them that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. In a single act he could win over every skeptic and avoid years of conflict with the religious establishment. It was indeed another tempting offer. Jesus sees right through it and without hesitating says in Luke 4:11, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test,” realizing that such a test would not be confirmation of God’s care but a calling of his care into question.
The reference is from Deut. 6:16. Notice the reference to Israel again. The Israelites failed in the wilderness when they asked at Massah, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7). God’s promises need not be tested to be trusted. This test says to God “If you really care about me, prove it. God, why is my life working out this way if you say you love me?” When the child of God is in the will of God, you can claim God’s protection and care. However, if you put yourself in a position where you willfully disobey God and then you expect God to rescue you, then you are tempting God. Obviously God redeems our mistakes, but to demand that from Him is foolish. The challenge does not demonstrate faith in God’s care, it demonstrates doubt that needs some tangible proof before we will be convinced. Israel failed. We know Adam and Eve did not trust God to provide for them as well. But not Jesus! He will not take any shortcuts.
Satan is left empty-handed yet again and as he finished every kind of temptation, in Luke 4:13, he turns to leave and come back at a more “opportune time.” A time when Jesus would be even weaker and more vulnerable, a time when his suffering would be more intense—a time he could have avoided if only he hadn’t taken sides in the desert so decisively and resisted so resolutely. He was not going to rupture his relationship with His Father and turn away from His call. Matthew and Mark tells us that angels came to minister to him to strengthen him (Matt. 4:11; Mark 1:13).
Beloved, we need not test God to trust Him. Jesus overcame this temptation by avoiding all shortcuts.
As we close here, once again let’s take a closer look at our Champion. When we get it wrong, He gets it right. In fact, He is the only one who’s gotten it right. We look again at Him. He has always gotten it right. Take for instance, the following. I want us to follow a thread all along the Gospel of John which shows us how Jesus consistently lived His life. I first saw this in seminary when we were studying how Jesus did life and ministry.
Look at John 4:34, John 5:30, John 6:38, John 7:18, John 8:29, John 12:49, John 14:31, John 17:4 and John 19:30. What conclusions can we make from these verses? We can conclude here that Jesus consistently lived to honor God and do His work. Is that what you want to do with your life? It’s what I want. But the fact is, I fail. We all fail. I struggle with self-sufficiency. I fail in not succumbing to idols around me. I fail in not trusting God’s plans and His love. But I look away at Him. He is my strength. He is my victory. He is my purpose. He is the One who conquers. He is.
Remember the prayer we prayed at the end of the last message? What we tend to do when we fail is to say to God, “God I know I failed this time. Help me to be better and not do it again.” That is another form of self-sufficiency. Victory never comes with self-effort. We need to learn how to say, “God, I know I failed. I am like Adam, led away by my fear and my lusts. I am like Israel, quick to doubt and not trust you. I fall into idol worship. But I thank you for Jesus. Thank you where I have failed, He has triumphed. Thank you that I stand here forgiven because of Him.” See the difference?
 Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary., Includes Index., Eleventh ed. (Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
 Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary : New Testament, electronic ed. (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000, c1992, c1993), G4352.
 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2005/marchweb-only/52.0d.html accessed 26 February 2009
Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M.E.J Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, Volumes 1-4 Combined in One Electronic Edition., electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999, c1994-1996), 1470.
Mark, Straus. “Highest point of the temple (4:9).” In Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Volume 1, Matthew, Mark, Luke. 360. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.