Blake Allen, Student and Outreach Minister, LHBC
4 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Okay, admit it. If you’re a parent, you do it too! Who doesn’t invoke the child tax on their threenager when they rack up on Halloween candy after Trick or Treating? Number 1, they don’t need all that candy. Number two, the dentist doesn’t need to see my kid the day after Halloween. Number 3, we put a lot of work in as parents and we deserve to be paid back with Swedish Fish from the sour patch kids we have. So yes, I invoked the child tax and took a good portion of my kids’ Halloween candy. Am I ashamed? Let me answer that after I eat this Twix.
I love watching Youtube videos of parents doing the same. Mostly I enjoy it because I can relate. I also love seeing the reactionary videos of kids when their parents tell them they ate all their Halloween candy–though they didn’t really eat all their candy and are just pranking them. Most of the kids go nuts after hearing the fake news! Whether you do the same or not, from all of this, one thing is clear: we all have desires. For some of us, that is our kid’s Halloween candy on October 31st.
Desires for what God has created is not a bad thing. But desires can lead to dangerous paths when not put in check. Ultimately, it’s what we do with those desires. For example, intimacy is not a bad thing in the confines of a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman. But when our unchecked desires for intimacy leads to adulterous practices, sex before marriage, pornography, etc., we sin against God and find ourselves on dangerous paths.
When we come to Matthew 4, Jesus sets the example of what it looks like to choose godly desires over godless ones. The desires of the flesh tend to pull us away from God’s design for our life. To combat this, we must crave a relationship with God more than anything else. And that’s exactly what Jesus did when faced with the temptations. In this story, Jesus is faced with three types of temptations: self-gratification, self-protection, and self exaltation. Notice these temptations all begin with the word “self.” When we make this life about us we don’t choose a life of knowing and worshipping God (theology). Instead, we choose to live a life worshipping ourselves (selfology).
In the story the first temptation we see Jesus face is self-gratification. Jesus is presented with the same type of temptation Adam and Eve faced in the garden; to fulfill a desire that is contrary to God’s plan. For Adam and Eve, it was the forbidden fruit. For Jesus, it was bread after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights. Adam and Eve chose to gratify the desires of the flesh even though they knew God commanded them not to eat of the forbidden fruit. Jesus, however, chose to honor his Father by resisting the temptation of self-gratification. He chose to be satisfied by God’s word instead. When you are faced with temptation will you choose to live by God’s instruction or fulfill the desires of your flesh?
The second temptation we see Jesus face is that of self-protection. Satan took him to the pinnacle of the temple. The pinnacle of the temple in Scripture is associated with God’s presence. So the logic goes: if God is present and Jesus is truly his son, then surely God would protect his child if he threw himself off the top of the mountain. Satan wanted Jesus to test the Lord’s faithfulness, to prove himself, and demonstrate He is present. Kind of like when we ask God to prove himself, his existence, and do what we ask of Him like some genie in a bottle who should grant us our wishes… But Jesus did not need the Father to prove anything to him. He trusted in His protection and provision. Jesus didn’t need proof of God’s protection. Do you lack trust in His protection and provision in your life? Will you follow Him all the days of your life or only if God does certain things for you?
The last temptation we see is that of self-exaltation. Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world if Jesus would bow down and worship him. Satan has always wanted to be God and receive worship and glory. In fact, Satan is trying to exalt himself in the process of trying to get Jesus to fall into the trap of self-exaltation! But why would he tempt Jesus in this way? Because he wanted Jesus to choose self-exaltation. The Father’s plan for the son was that of suffering, pain, and torment for the sins of humanity. Ownership of the kingdom belonged to Jesus but His glory and honor would come through enduring the cross. Satan tried to get Jesus to avoid this road by exalting his plan over the Father’s plan. In other words, have glory and honor now without the suffering. But Jesus would not exalt his plans over the Father’s plans. He would not choose the path of self. We too are tempted to exalt ourselves: our plans, our successes, our accomplishments, our wealth, etc. Will you have your reward in this life or will you live for the eternal reward promised to us in the life to come? Will you exalt yourself or God?
Ultimately, the questions we need to answer are these: What do you desire in this life? Are we going to live for self or for God? Do you desire to follow God and His plan for your life, or will you live for your own desires? It’s not about us. It’s about Him. It’s not about our fleshly desires. It’s about having godly desires. It’s not about our kingdom. It’s about His kingdom. We can Choose today whom you will serve.
PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, may our heart’s desire be to live for you and bring glory to your name. Help us to recognize when we are being led astray by our passions and desires. As we face temptations, give us the strength to overcome them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
MEMORY VERSE FOR THE WEEK:
John 6:35- Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.