Message："The meaning of the temptation of the Son of God." on June 6, 2021
This morning’s Bible story is very famous. But because it is important for us to know the identity of Jesus, I would like to study it with you slowly, expanding on the content a bit.
Please note that I am not using direct quotes from the Bible (unless noted) but adding my own imaginations, and changing the order of the words to make it easier to talk about.
First of all, what were the temptations that Jesus was subjected to?
The first temptation:
Satan said, "You are hungry, aren't you? Why don't you try turning stones into bread?
You don't have to hesitate because you are the all-powerful Son of God. Show me a miracle now.”
Jesus's words to Satan were, "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” <Deuteronomy 7:3> Turning stones into bread would have been a piece of cake for Him, because He was the Son of God who had the ability and right to do so.
It was God's command to Israel that man should not live by bread alone, and it was Jesus's attitude toward life.
There are many religions whose goal is to provide benefits.
More or less, religions have their benefits, even Christianity. You can see it in the content of our prayers. Sometimes I'm embarrassed to pray about things, so I add, "if it's God's will" to my prayer. But to be honest, I should confess that I ask God for good fortune in the same way as other religions do. Well! How can we more closely imitate Jesus's prayer, rather than merely praying for good things? That's a big challenge for each of us. We are taught the Lord's Prayer, though. It is the way to pray.
This is the next temptation:
“Try jumping off the roof of the temple,” Satan says. “God would never put you in danger, would He? He is always protecting you, so you have nothing to worry about.”
In the first attempt, Jesus countered with quotes from the Bible, so this time, the devil quotes from the Bible as well. In this way, Satan also uses the Bible, so we have to be careful. We believe that what’s written in the Bible is God's word, but how we use the Bible is very important. We need to be careful not to simply say, "This is what the Bible says, so it must be right.”
For example, Satan used the Old Testament. "...no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” <Psalm 91:10-12>(NIV)
How did Jesus respond to Satan? He said, "Do not test the Lord your God." This was taken from Deuteronomy 6:16: "Do not test the Lord your God." These are the words of Moses as he reflected on Israel's forty years in the wilderness.
But who has not tested God in their walk of faith? We say we believe, but we are half in doubt until it comes true, aren't we? Perhaps, you believe in God's existence and are filled with gratitude for your salvation, but whether you are able to live with full faith is another matter.
Faith is something that gradually grows as we live our lives, so it takes time for us to realize how merciful God is; how He takes care of us deeply; and how He answers even little things we pray for.
Prayer is an intimate conversation with God, and it takes time for us to understand who Jesus is throughout our lives; to deepen our trust in Him as we pray; and to be confident that no matter how hard things are, we will be okay. However, time just passes, and we often don't understand this, even if we have had faith for a long time.
Let’s look at another temptation:
Satan said, "If you bow down and worship me, I will give all of this to you.”
Then Jesus said, "Get back, Satan. It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve Him alone.’” I believe that this was the ultimate temptation of Satan. God's agonizing plan was to send Jesus to earth to die on the cross for all humanity, past, present, and future.
Everyone! None of us are born with the purpose to die, right? Why are we born into this world? Isn't it to live, to live better? However, the Bible says there is more to it than that. It proclaims the Gospel that even though our bodies die, we will continue on to eternal life. Death is not the end.
Satan knew Jesus's mission. He tempted Jesus to act self-centered-ly, to use his privilege as the Son of God for himself. The purpose of Satan's temptation was to eliminate the eternal salvation of mankind following Jesus' death on the cross and his resurrection. Since his first two attacks on Jesus using the Bible were ineffective, this was his last resort. The purpose of this temptation was not "devil worship". I am convinced that it was to tempt Jesus to avoid going to the cross. “You don't have to go to the cross; just bow down to me once and I'll give you all this glory and honor,” the devil said. Thus, the devil tried to rob Jesus of His greatest purpose: death on the cross, resurrection, and eternal life. What a clever temptation!
All three temptations were countered by Jesus’s words from Deuteronomy, the last of the five books called the Torah (Law). It is the book that summarizes the "law" for the Israelites. For them, it was the greatest law, and the one that limited their daily lives. Against the temptation of the devil, Jesus completely used the "law" to resist. He spoke in a way that the Jews could understand.
There is one more question. Why did Jesus have to be tempted? Since Jesus is the Messiah, why didn't he just start preaching without such troublesome temptations? Jesus knows that there will always be temptations (problems and challenges) in our lives. He showed us how to deal with them. Furthermore, even though Jesus is the Son of God, He stoops down to the same level as us and shows us the way, so that we can be victorious in all of our life's battles.
Have you ever muttered, "Jesus could do it because He is the Son of God, but how could I?”
The New Testament letter to the Hebrews 4:14-15 says, "Now let us hold fast the confession of our faith, for we have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God, who has passed through all the heavens. Our High Priest is not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses. He did not sin, but in every way. He was tried as we are.” Thanks be to the Lord!
Jesus lived out his life as a human being, just like we do. He was hungry; he loved people and was betrayed; he was in despair; he was always calm; but at times he was angry at those who blasphemed God. I can imagine how many tears Jesus must have shed. When I look at Jesus's temptations, I'd like to consider, once again, what is the foundation of my faith.