Sir, We Would See Jesus: In the Presence of Temptation

SIR, WE WOULD SEE JESUS

II. “IN THE PRESENCE OF TEMPTATION”

AUDIO: Sir, We Would See Jesus – In The Presence of Temptation

Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11 Hebrews 2:18, 4:15-16

Suggested Hymns: “Crown Him with Many Crowns” and “In the Hour of Trial”

“Sir”, said the Greeks to one of the Masters disciples, “We would see Jesus”.  “Sir”, says a woman whose life is haunted by numerous fears, “I would see Jesus.” “Sir”, says a man who is constantly falling victim to temptation, “I would see Jesus.”

“Sir”, says the old person who feels that death is very near, “I would see Jesus.”

Because so many people seeing Jesus have found the answer to the problems of their lives, because most of us also believe, that seeing Jesus, we may know the road we ought to walk in life, because Jesus can and does provide the fulfillment of the most basic needs of human life…we…too, would see Jesus.

Last Sunday, we saw Him “In the Presence of Fear.”  We noted situations, which though they resulted in fear in others, showed Jesus to be utterly unafraid.

Today, we would see Jesus “In the Presence of Temptation.”

As a starting point, we turn to the letter in Hebrews portions of the 2nd and 4th chapters (2:18, 4:15-16)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are…yet was without sin.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

“Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”

The classical story of the temptation of Christ, was heard again by us this morning, as we read the 4th chapter of the gospel according to Matthew. This incident occurred shortly after Jesus’ Baptismal experience.

He had gone to the river Jordan…and there, not because He needed to be baptized, but in order to fully identify Himself with humanity, at the very beginning of His ministry, He had gone into the river, and there had been baptized. As He came out of the water, those standing by watching, noted unusual sounds in the air round about them, and heard a voice like that of mighty thunder saying: “this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” What a wonderful omen for the beginning of His life’s work!

It is recorded that Jesus then was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Apart from the usual haunts of men, He sought the guidance of God for the days and years that were ahead. For 40 long days, He remained in the wilderness without much food.

At the end of the 40 days, He was hungry. His hunger gave rise to the first temptation.

The Tempter came to Jesus and said: “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”

In other words, Satan was saying to Jesus, “You have certain divine powers. They may have been given to you for certain spiritual purposes, but what’s the harm of using them for your own satisfactions?” Your hungry….provide food for yourself by causing these stones to become edible.”

To this temptation, it is recorded that Jesus replied:

“It is written: ‘man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus would not use His divine powers in a selfish manner. Indeed, He would take this opportunity to point out that the primary end of life is not a physical one, but a spiritual one.

A man may stuff his body with food, but unless he is filled with spiritual bread of life, he has not correctly discovered what life is all about. Physical food is necessary, but spiritual food is essential.

Then, it is recorded: the devil took Him to Jerusalem and set Him up on the highest point of the temple.

Jesus had quoted scripture to Satan, so Satan quoted scripture to Him. He said to Jesus: “If you are the Son of God, 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.”

And in an instant came back the reply of Jesus: “It is also written, Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”

How skillful the Devil was and is. Here he was tempting the spiritual pride and the personal honor of Jesus. It was a temptation to test God.

It was a temptation to forward His ministry by using some spectacular method, and dazzling the people with the way God was with Him.

To do great wonder’s might bring men to Jesus, but they would have come because of His miracles, not for the reasons they ought to come; not because they had gained a truly spiritual understanding of life; not because God called them, not because here was a man who could do miracles. Jesus was victorious over this temptation to use the methods of the world rather than the ways of God.

But after this came the most subtle and most enticing temptation of all.

It is recorded, “Again the Devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and there splendor, and he said to Jesus, “All this I will give You, if You will bow down and worship me.”

How many people there are, who would have sold their souls for just such a possibility? The Caesars, the Napoleons, the Hitler’s, the Saddam Hussein’s, and all the rest.

“Here, Jesus”, Satan was saying, “the whole of the earth for which You came to this life is Yours if You will but fall down and worship me. After all, I am the ruler of the earth you know.” but Jesus said to him:

“Be gone Satan, for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.”

Jesus rejects any compromise with evil as a way of accomplishing His purposes. He will give complete loyalty only to God.

After this last defeat, it is recorded that Satan left Jesus “until a suitable time.” This defeat of temptation was not a permanent one in Jesus’ life. Time after time Satan came back to tempt Him, to see if there was not a crack in His armor. He came in many different guises.

Through the Pharisees and High Priest’s he tempted Jesus to show signs from heaven.

Through various individuals He posed questions which would get Jesus in trouble, either with the people or with the authorities.

All through His ministry, Jesus was buffeted with temptation. But the last and greatest of all was left for the end of His earthly life.

Once again, it was following a most high and holy experience. Jesus had just celebrated the Passover with His disciples. Jesus had just instituted what we call the Lord’s Supper, in remembrance of Him.

The scene of this temptation is in a garden…..the place, Gethsemane.

Just imagine a dramatist building a play around the whole life of Jesus. Here is the climax. Here is the crisis of the entire drama. All of life has brought Jesus to this moment. Now is the time of decision. Now is the hour of testing.

Jesus knows very well that this is Satan’s hour, that it will be a time of temptation. When He comes to this place in the garden, He tells His disciples: “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Then He goes forward to that scene of life and death struggle. A struggle not only for Himself but on behalf of the whole world. Jesus kneels and prays: “Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me.

Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” Being in agony He prays more earnestly, His sweat becomes like great drops of blood falling down upon the ground.

Not just once, not just twice, but three times is this scene repeated. Each time the temptation to get out from under the looming shadow of the Cross, Each time the attempt to escape the agony of Crucifixion, but each time defeating this very human desire. Each time making Himself entirely available, for the working out of the purposes of God.

It is in this garden that the victory is won. It is here that the sentence is passed. All that remains after this is, in a sense, anti-climatic.

The trial, The betrayal, The cross, The tomb were all foreseen here in the garden and the temptation to turn aside from this bitter way was overcome, and Jesus, our Lord, our Master, our Savior had overcome temptation.

We have seen Him now in the presence of temptation. What were the weapons of His victory over it?

The first …He knew God’s word. In the wilderness experience, each time He was tempted, He could say “It is written.” We, too, have those same standards, not only do we have those Biblical standards of old, but we have Jesus, who Himself is the Way. Because He overcame, we, too, can overcome.

The second weapon was prayer. That was what Jesus did in Gethsemane. He wanted His disciples to pray too. We seldom go wrong while praying. It is very difficult to fall victim to a temptation at the moment one is praying for strength to overcome it.

The third weapon is in the fact that once the temptation became apparent, Jesus reacted against it immediately. There was no hesitancy or delay, no toying with the idea of whether one should or should not do a certain evil thing.

It is said that the great Roman General, Pompey, desiring to conquer a city, asked for permission to quarter his soldiers there. The rulers of the city were too wise for that. They would not allow his soldiers to enter. But there were certain of Pompey’s soldiers, who were ill, and these sick men the City accepted, but the sick soon became well and opened the gates to Pompey’s army and the City was conquered.

The temptation was eliminated by Jesus immediately. There was no waiting until a small fire had grown into a great inferno.

What a pity it is that so often the fires of temptation in our lives, are not extinguished when they might be put out with a bucket of water, but left until at last, they are a six alarm blaze.

Jesus, in the presence of temptation, conquered it immediately.

The fourth weapon of Jesus’ conquest of temptation is found in His utter dependence upon God, upon His willingness to be ruled by the wisdom of God, and to make Himself a part of the plan of God. He would take His orders from no lesser authority and from no questionable source.

His business was doing His Father’s business and anything which might not be His Father’s methods, He immediately eliminated. He knew that God would provide the way and the truth by which He would succeed.

Finally, the weapon that Jesus used in overcoming temptation was in never falling victim to it, and thereby each time increasing His strength of resistance. How easy it would have been for Him to fall victim to that first temptation regarding bread. Had He done that the second temptation, and the third, and the fourth would have been much more difficult to resist, but the first battle having been won, each battle was easier thereafter.

Each temptation resisted in our own lives becomes a barricade of strong defense against the next.

Sometimes, quite often, I am like the Apostle Paul. He said: “I often find….I don’t accomplish the good I set out to do, and the evil I don’t really want to do I find I am always doing…..” But then Paul goes on: “yet if I do things that I don’t really want to do, then it is not, I repeat, ‘I’ who do them, but the sin which has made its home within me.” When I come up against the Law, I want to do good, but in practice I do evil.

My conscience mind wholeheartedly endorses the Law, yet I observe an entirely different principle at work in my nature.

This is in continual conflict with my conscience attitude, and makes me an unwilling prisoner to the law of sin and death.

In my mind, I am God’s willing servant, but in my own nature I am bound fast, as I say, to the law of sin and death. “It is an agonizing situation,” he says, “and who on earth can set me free, from the clutches of my own sinful nature?”

And then he affirms, “I thank God there IS a way out, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

I like that. I am helped by that. I find hope for me …and you.

“I thank God there is a way out through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Remember: “He himself has shared fully in all our experiences of temptation except that He never sinned.”…..and….. “by virtue of His own suffering under temptation, He is able to help those who are exposed to temptation.”

Are you tempted?? I know and you know that you are. Temptations that are physical, material, moral, and spiritual. But if we see Jesus in the presence of temptation,

“Because He Himself has suffered and been tempted He is able to help those who are tempted.”

We would see Jesus for we too are tempted!

Let each of us remember Jesus in the presence of temptation. Strong to resist because He knew God’s word, Strong to resist because He prayed, Strong to resist because He immediately reacted against the temptation, Strong to resist because He depended on God, Strong to resist because by overcoming, He found an additional power to overcome.

“Let us then with confidence draw near to Jesus that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Amen.

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