We come to our study of the Word of God. Really the high point as we worship is worshiping the Lord in truth, and the Word opens that up for us. Luke 4 is our text. For you that are visiting with us, we are in an ongoing study of the gospel of Luke, the longest gospel in the New Testament. And we have just embarked upon a study of chapter 4, the first 13 verses which have to do with the familiar temptation of Christ in which He enters into conflict with the devil.
Before we look at the text itself, just a little bit of background so you understand how it fits into the purposes of Luke and the purposes of God for Scripture. By the time you get to the fourth chapter of the gospel of Luke, you have been through three very long chapters. And in the first three chapters of Luke's gospel, Luke is endeavoring to prove beyond argument, beyond doubt, that Jesus is the Messiah, that He is the Son of God, that He is the Savior of the world. And so Luke lays down every element of that evidence, every element of that proof.
Summing it all up, we can say that the Messiahship of Jesus Christ has been proven by the testimony of angels. Both an angel who spoke to Zacharias and angels who spoke to Mary and Joseph, angels also who addressed shepherds in the field, affirming Jesus the One born in Bethlehem as the Messiah.
Not only has there been the testimony of angels, but there has been the testimony of men and women. Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, knew full well that their child, their miraculously born child was going to be the forerunner of Messiah who would proclaim the arrival of the Messiah which was very soon to come after the birth of the prophet John. Then there's the testimony of Joseph and Mary, both of whom knew that the child granted to them was the Son of God, the Savior of the world, Immanuel, who is God with us. There was also the confirming testimony of two very godly older people in the temple, namely Anna and Simeon. There was then, as well, later on the testimony of John the Baptist, who said of Jesus that He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
So you have the testimony of angels. You have the testimony of people affirming the Messiahship and the Saviorhood of Jesus Christ. Going up even from there you have the testimony of God Himself, who at the baptism of Jesus says out of heaven, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." The first member of the Trinity therefore attesting to the second member of the Trinity. Then you have the testimony of the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, who descends from heaven and rests upon Jesus, a divine stamp, an imprimatur, signifying the deity and the worthiness of Jesus to bear the title of Messiah, Son of God, Savior of the world.
In addition to the testimony of angels, the testimony of men, the testimony of the Trinity, you have the testimony of genealogy. And you will notice at the end of chapter 3 the genealogy of Jesus is given, starting at Jesus, going all the way down to verse 38 back to Adam and back to God. He is in the end son of Adam, Son of God. His genealogy suits Him to be Messiah. He is Son of God, he is son of Adam, He is son of Abraham and He is Son of David. Therefore He is of the royal lineage and has the right to be God's anointed King.
All of this in three chapters is a summation of the evidence to indicate that Jesus and no other is the Savior of the world, the Son of God, the Messiah. There is one other issue, however, in order to validate His Messiahship and that is His ability to conquer the devil and sin. It's fine to have all of these evidences, all of these proofs, all of these credentials in place. But the ultimate question is: Can He save sinners from sin? Can He save sinners from the destroyer, from death and hell? That's the compelling question. Can He overturn the curse? Can He get us paradise regained? Can He undo what the destroyer did with the first Adam? Can He conquer Satan? Can He conquer sin and therefore conquer death and conquer hell, not only for Himself but for us? And if He can't for Himself, then it's for sure He can't do it for us. And so the compelling question that is answered in the fourth chapter of Luke is the question: Can Jesus conquer the devil and sin? And there is a ringing yes to that question.
Here He is engaged in conflict with the devil. It is not a conflict that comes about because Jesus inadvertently finds Himself involved somehow with the devil rather by accident. It is not a conflict that comes about because Jesus made some mistake or made a bad choice and ended up in a compromising situation where He was somewhat vulnerable to Satan. He enters into conflict with Satan prompted by the Holy Spirit. It is not as if Satan came after Him, it is rather as if He came after Satan. The Spirit of God literally driving Him, says one of the gospel writers, into the wilderness, into this conflict because it was absolutely critical at the outset of His ministry that He be given the ultimate test of the power of Satan against Him to see if He could stand, that essential to His messianic credentials.
He had been being tempted as all people are tempted throughout the thirty years of His life up until this point. The writer of Hebrews says, "He was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin." He was tempted as an infant, He was tempted as a small child, tempted as a young child, tempted as a teenager, tempted as a young adult, tempted as an adult the way everybody's tempted. He never sinned. But here at the launch point as He engages in His ministry, there is a concerted work of temptation not just by the system around Him but by the devil himself, intending to, of course, destroy Him as Messiah. But from God's viewpoint: Intending to validate Him as the Messiah because Satan cannot succeed in any way in drawing Him into sin.
So Messiah's credentials then must include His ability to demonstrate power over Satan. This isn't the only time He did it. He did it for thirty years up until this time. He does it here in a monumental conflict. He will do it through His entire ministry as He overpowers the kingdom of darkness and casts out demons anytime He wants in any volume He wants, and can send them to the pit, as we see indicated in His actions. He also demonstrates great power over the force of temptation in the garden and greater power yet as He conquers Satan even in death as He hangs on the cross, and then comes three days later out of the tomb. This is not the only time that He enters into conflict, and, of course, verse 13 says, "The devil departed from Him, only until an opportune time." He was back and he was back on numerous occasions. But this is an initial and monumental conflict that starts His ministry, which adds to His credentials as the Messiah by demonstrating His power over Satan and His power over sin. And again I say, if He is not adequate to conquer sin and Satan himself, He certainly can't do it for us. If He is defeated by Satan, then we all lose, there is no salvation, and we are all damned.
The Jews knew that Satan had conquered the sinless Adam. The question was: Could Satan conquer the sinless Jesus? And the Jews knew that Adam was in a perfect environment. Here we find Jesus in the most imperfect of all environments. If Adam was in Eden, Jesus is in anti-Eden. He is out in the devastation, as George Adam Smith calls it, the rocky, precipitous, dangerous area in the Judean wilderness that is in the crevices and the cracks and the canyons between Jericho in the Jordan valley and Jerusalem up on the plateau. It is a very dangerous area. It is an isolated area. It is a barren, dry, desolate area where Jesus finds Himself engaged in conflict with Satan. If Adam had everything, Adam had all that he ever needed to eat, Adam had a kingdom that spread across the whole world, the pinnacle of which was expressed in the magnificence of the Garden of Eden, Jesus was in the opposite situation. He had no food at all and He had no kingdom and possessed absolutely nothing.
So we find Him at the very opposite end in terms of circumstances from Adam. Adam had everything. Jesus had nothing. If Adam was vulnerable, certainly Jesus is more vulnerable. If the first Adam collapsed at the first temptation, maybe the second Adam will collapse at this temptation, though He has succeeded in many before this. Maybe the circumstances finally are enough to crush Him and there is no Savior. That's the question that needs to be answered. The answer is that Jesus conquered Satan and He conquered him in very triumphant ways, as we shall see.
And so, Luke tells us here that we have a Savior who can overturn the curse. We have a Savior who is not like the first Adam. We have a Savior who can take all of the fury of the devil and all of the onslaught of temptation and never wince and never budge and never move and never ever even internalize a solicitation to evil. He comes out triumphant and with that Luke consummates, caps off, the credentials that identify Jesus as the One and only Messiah and Savior.
Let's read the text. "And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, was led about by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And He ate nothing during those days and when they had ended, He became hungry. And the devil said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, tell the stone to become bread.' And Jesus answered him, 'It is written, “Man shall not live on bread alone.”' And he led Him up and he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time and the devil said to Him, 'I'll give You all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be yours.' And Jesus answered and said to him, 'It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”' And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him, 'If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here, for it is written, “He will give His angels charge concerning You to guard You and on their hands they will bear You up lest You strike Your foot against the stone.”' And Jesus answered and said to him, 'It is said, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”' And when the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time."
If Jesus had fallen to the temptations of Satan, salvation would be impossible and we would all be damned. He is the only substitute. He is the only Lamb. He is the only sacrifice. He is the only one perfect. He's the only one suited to die for sinners. It is absolutely crucial that He win this battle with the enemy, this consummate battle, this pinnacle of all battles, and as the text indicates, He did. The question asked certainly by anyone who understands the process of redemption is: Is there someone? Is there someone who can conquer sin? Is there someone who can conquer Satan? Is there someone who can reverse the curse? And the answer is: There is. It is Jesus and He has demonstrated His power here. Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam succeeded. In the first Adam we all die, in the second Adam we all live.
So in this text the Son of God is tested. He's tested as to His ability to resist temptation. He's tested as to His impeccability and He is found to be impervious to all temptation. He did only what the Father wanted Him to do. He did always what the Father wanted Him to do. And when God said of Him after thirty years of life, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," God was saying, "He's never done anything, thought anything, or said anything that didn't please Me." The Father having given that testimony, that testimony is then put to the test in this temptation. It is a temptation which God Himself inaugurates by the Spirit driving Him into conflict with Satan, rather than Satan approaching Him. Because He is triumphant, we can say that He is in fact the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He has been and continued to be from this point on until His death tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.
This is such an incredibly important account in the life of Jesus that it is recorded also by Mark in chapter 1 and by Matthew in chapter 4. And you will see varying details when you compare those passages.
Now last time we looked at the first point that I wanted you to see, the preparation for battle, the first two verses. Jesus prepared for battle by being full of the Holy Spirit. That is He was permeated or saturated with the presence of the Holy Spirit. Remember now, He is God. He is also man, fully man, fully God. But He as the God-Man set aside the independent use of His deity. He set aside the independent use of His deity and submitted Himself to the work of the Holy Spirit. God's will would be done in His life by means of the power of the Holy Spirit, as we've seen in the past. So the Spirit of God literally permeates Him. The Spirit of God fills Him. You remember God didn't give Him the Spirit by measure. He didn't give out a limited dose or amount of the Spirit but an immeasurable amount. The fullness of the Spirit belongs to Jesus so He moves into His ministry from the Jordan river where He has been baptized and confirmed and commended by God and the Holy Spirit. He moves into His ministry in the fullest measure of the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity completely empowering Jesus to do the will of the first member of the trinity who is God the Father.
The Spirit leads Him into the wilderness, into the devastation, into a thirty-five by fifteen square mile area of precipitous cliffs and ravines and rocks, a place of scorpions and snakes and wild animals, a place uninhabited, a place where nothing grows, a desolate part of the Judean desert that rises from the Dead Sea 1,500 feet or so below sea level to Jerusalem up on the plateau, about a mile distance. It is a precipitous and dangerous area. And Jesus is there for forty days and for all those forty days He is in a conflict with the devil. It is an intense battle, so intense that Jesus doesn't eat anything for forty days. And during that forty days He is not even conscious of being hungry because in verse 2 it says that "When they had ended, He became hungry." He has no sense of His hunger. Some of us get hungry if we miss lunch. Some of you are hungry already and you had breakfast. It is hard to imagine someone being forty days and not being hungry unless you understand the intensity of that struggle that is going on. He is so totally focused on the conflict, so focused on the enemy, so focused on the will of the Father, so focused on doing what is right that there is no thought of anything human or mundane. It is the conflict and the conflict alone that engages Him.
The Father has commended Him. The Spirit has descended on Him to mark out the fact that He is under the full power of the Holy Spirit. The prophet has proclaimed Him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The people of Jerusalem and Judea have been prepared by a baptism unto repentance for His coming. He is aware of His divine nature, fully aware of it. He is fully aware of His divine mission. His sacred humanity is under the full power of the Holy Spirit. He is filled with joy because now since all of this was planned before time began, He has waited all this time, He has waited for thirty years in the obscurity of Nazareth. He has now had His official launch at the Jordan. He is at the highest point of anticipation, ready to enter in to His ministry and in that Spirit He engages in the devil...in the conflict with the devil to demonstrate one final, great, essential credential, and that is His ability to conquer sin and Satan. This is the moment in which He will verify His holy perfection.
So for forty days the onslaught goes on. It is a preparation, in a sense, for the final battle which we'll see in a moment. But for forty days it goes on and Satan is unsuccessful in the forty days because, as John 14:30 says, "Satan has nothing in Me." There was nothing in Jesus, there was nothing in His nature as the God-Man to which the devil could hook a temptation and make it successful. Jesus had no capacity to internalize a temptation. All temptation that came at Jesus came from the outside. None of it came from the inside. There was no internal solicitation for evil. There was nothing in Him that could respond in that fashion. So every response to temptation was immediate. Every response to temptation was precise. And you never ever read about any kind of internal battle going on as if Jesus is fighting off some tendency within Him for iniquity. Satan has nothing in Me, John 14:30.
But after that forty days of struggle is over, Jesus who is a man, fully man, feels hungry. Satan senses in that hunger a new vulnerability. He senses that in the fact that Jesus is feeling hunger that Jesus is beginning to feel His mortality. He moves in for what he thinks might be the kill. What happens is three temptations that Satan devises that are the most brash, the most ruthless and the most clever. He keeps them until he finds in Christ this moment of vulnerability.
That takes us from the preparation for battle to the pattern of battle in verses 3 to 12. We'll look at the postmortem when we finish next time. But the pattern of battle is very, very important. The temptations directed at Jesus Christ are unique to Him, and I want you to understand that. What... What the devil tempts Jesus to do here would not be a temptation to us. We could not be successfully attempted to turn...tempted to turn stones into bread. We could not be successfully tempted to imagine that somehow we could rule the kingdoms of the world, nor could we take a dive off of a 450-foot precipice and expect a safe landing. These are not specifically temptations that could come to us but they are temptations that could come to Him.
However, though specifically they couldn't come to us, categorically they could, and I'll show you that as we go. These temptations come not only with specificity, but they come in a category. The specificity doesn't connect to us, the category does. And you'll see that as we go.
The first temptation is a temptation to distrust God's love, to distrust God's love. Now when I say that, you can understand that categorically. Not only can you understand it, you've been tempted to do it, to distrust God's love. You've been tempted to say things aren't going the way that I think they ought to go. If God really loved me, I never would have wound up marrying this man. If God really loved me, if God really loved me I wouldn't have wound up in this circumstance. If God really loved me I wouldn't have this illness. If God really loved me my kids wouldn't turn out this way. If God really loved me I wouldn't be living with so much disappointment. If God really loved me He wouldn't have plopped me in this community where things are so difficult. If God really loved me, it wouldn't be the way it is. I wouldn't have gone down the path I went down that is sort of locked me in for a career that I really don't like. If God really loved me I wouldn't be missing the things that I think are so important to a fulfilled life. If God really loved me, He'd enable me to do things for my family that I'm unable to do. If God really loved me, I wouldn't be bearing so many burdens. If God really loved me I wouldn't be asking, why do the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper?
We can understand that categorically, can't we? That's there. I can't turn stones into bread but I can be tempted to distrust God's love for me. And the question, why it is that I don't have the things that I think would be given to me would be measures in some way of God's love for me. And that's precisely the category, but the temptation is specific. Let's look at it.
Verse 3: "The devil said to Him." All the way through the devil speaks, by the way, with a measure of truth. Deception only works if it somehow has partial truth in it. And so when the devil speaks, he starts from a point of truth. That's the subtlety of his deception. So the devil said to Him, "If” or probably better translated, “Since..." This is a first class conditional with a particle, which is ei in the Greek. And a first class conditional does not presume doubt. It does not presume doubt. So he's really saying, "Since...since You are the Son of God." This is true and this is the measure of truth with which Satan launches the deception.
And by the way, that is the purpose of the first three chapters, to prove He is the Son of God, that He is that holy offspring that the angel described to Mary, that He is the Son of God. And that's what's been going on for three chapters. We've been learning that indeed He is the Son of God. That's not questioned. And I would just remind you, by the way, that the devil never questions the deity of Jesus. The devil doesn't question the deity of Jesus. Demons don't even question the deity of Jesus. Only the liberals question the deity of Jesus.
That is patently obvious in the Bible that Jesus is God. And it is patently obvious to the demons. They've known Jesus as God before they fell. When they were holy angels before they joined into Satan's rebellion, they knew Jesus to be God. They still know He is God. There is never a denial of that at any time by any demonic power. No demon is ever recorded to have denied the deity of Jesus Christ. They know He is God and it is always assumed in all their conversations. That's why in Matthew 8:29 the demons say, "What do we have to do with You, Son of God?" They know who He is. You see the same in Luke 4:34 and Luke 8:28.
Satan comes to Him, the devil comes to Him, diabolos as we saw last time, the slanderer, the accuser. "Since You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Or as Matthew puts it, "Tell these stones to become bread," putting together maybe Satan said something like, tell these stones to become bread, in fact, tell that stone to become a loaf right there. That is the first solicitation to evil.
Now at first glance you look at that and you say, hmm. Is this a temptation? What's a temptation? It is certainly not a temptation to make bread. Bread isn't sinful. Certainly not wrong to eat bread if you haven't eaten in forty days. In fact, I think bread is probably a very reasonable thing to eat after a fast of that length. It certainly isn't wrong in itself to create bread if you have the power to create it. Eating bread is not sinful. This is certainly not gluttony. This is not overeating. Satisfying your hunger is not sinful. It's certainly... I mean, hunger is what God gave us in order that we would eat and supply the necessary fuel for our bodies. This is not a temptation either to show off because there isn't anybody there to show off to. This isn't some kind of grandstand play to demonstrate something to a crowd of people because there's absolutely nobody there but Jesus and the devil. This is not some temptation to excessive self-indulgence or satisfaction. And it isn't a sin to meet your own basic human need for food.
What's the deal here? What's the problem? Well it kind of goes like this. The implication here is to distrust God's love. The implication here is based upon the fact that Satan knew that Jesus had restricted His independent use of His own deity to do only the will of the Father through the power of the Spirit, and that He wasn't to do anything that the Father didn't will and the Spirit empower. In fact, Jesus said, John 4:34, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me." Numerous times in the gospel of John Jesus says that one way or another. "I only do what the Father tells Me to do, I only do what the Father shows Me to do. I've come to do the Father's will, that's it."
Part of the self-emptying — the kenosis as theologians call it — part of Jesus' humiliation was to set aside the independent use of His own deity and operate only under the Father's will in perfect submission and by the Spirit's power in effecting that will. That was part of His full condensation...condescension.
So the implication here is to say, look, if God really loved You, You wouldn't be hungry. How much does God really love You? You've waited all this time in Nazareth, You had Your moment in the sun down there at the Jordan river at Your baptism, and now for forty days You've been out here in this God-forsaken place and You've been in conflict with the devil and You've had nothing to eat for forty days and now You're very hungry and God hasn't provided anything for You. So You think You can trust God's love? Do You think that's an evidence that God really loves You? Maybe God doesn't love You as much as You think He loves You.
This is exactly the...the formula that Satan used with Eve, isn't it? What Satan was saying to Eve in the Garden is, "You mean to tell me there's a tree that has fruit on it and God doesn't want you to have it? Well if God really loved you, why would He restrict you? God probably isn't as loving as you think He is. He's probably not as kind as you think He is. He's probably not as good as you think He is or He wouldn't...He wouldn’t restrict you from eating that true...that tree. Don't you think that maybe God isn't quite as good as you think He is, or as loving as you think He is. In fact, you know I'll tell you why He doesn't want you to eat that, because if you eat that you'll be like Him and He hates competition at that level. And that will tell you He's really not good at all because the reason He doesn't want you to eat of that is you'll be like Him and He doesn't want that kind of competition."
And Eve bought into the lie that God wasn't as good as she thought He was; He wasn't as kind as she thought He was; He wasn't as loving as she thought He was. And so she ate. That's the same scenario here. You think God is loving? You're the Son of God, how come You're hungry? You think God is loving? Didn't You just hear God out of heaven down at the Jordan river say, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," so is this how He demonstrates it? Forty days in the wilderness, forty days in here in conflict with Satan in this precipitous, dangerous, God-forsaken place, forty days with nothing to eat, this is love? Since You're the Son of God, let me suggest to You it's time to use Your own prerogatives. And what...what Satan wants to do is to set Jesus against the Father and the Spirit, acting independently on His own. And he can't appeal to Him in His deity so he appeals to Him as the God-Man through His humanity. You shouldn't be hungry, You shouldn't be suffering this. You shouldn't be going through this. You're the Son of God.
And the implication is, my goodness, didn't God even feed those cantankerous, doubtful, sinful idolaters complaining people wandering in the wilderness with manna? And here You are, the Son of God, the perfect, sinless, Son of God and You're hungry. I don't get it.
You could even say that Satan could have used the argument, how come the wicked prospered in the wilderness, and You're suffering and You're the righteous? And by the way, didn't God say He'd rain down bread miraculously on His people and didn't He do it for them in the wilderness? And didn't Isaiah say that God's people would never hunger and thirst? And didn't the psalmist say God always fills the hungry with what is good, Psalm 107, and doesn't the psalmist say he'd never seen God's people begging for bread? I would suggest to You, says Satan, that it's time for You to act on Your own because I don't think God is as good to You as You might have thought He is, or You wouldn't be in this situation. I think You better grab some satisfaction. And by the way, too, as a footnote, even Moses was able to pull bread out of heaven for his people. Do You think You're his equal?
Well, there's no question that Jesus could make bread. He made enough bread and enough fish to feed several thousands of people, didn't He? He could do that, there was not a question of power. And really it wasn't a question of whether He had a right to eat, He had to eat, He was a man, He had to eat or He would...He would die. The only issue here was He was...He was being tempted to take it on to Himself to decide when the food would come and how the food would come. And the temptation was to distrust God's love. Create bread, grab some satisfaction, You deserve it, God isn't nearly as loving towards You as You think He is or You wouldn't be in this situation.
Satan would have been saying, "It's inconceivable to me that You could be the Son of God, that You could be the one who fully pleased God and here You are starving. It does not make sense. There are all kinds of people who hate God, there are all kinds of enemies of God who are full and fat. It doesn't make sense. You're God's Son. You have a right to it."
You see, he's never denying the deity of Jesus. He's never denying He's the Son of God. He just wants to get Him through this clever manipulation to act independently of the Father, therefore express disobedience, which is sin, and that's the idea. Distrust God. God must be disinterested. He must be somewhat indifferent.
Well, the Son of God responded this way in verse 4, "Jesus answered him," immediately, I think. I don't think He sat there and said, "Oh boy, where am I going to come down on this one?" "Jesus answered, 'It is written, “I love this, every time He answers He quotes Scripture, takes out the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. “It is written man shall not live on bread alone," and Matthew adds the rest of that verse, "but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
He quotes Deuteronomy 8:3. Now Deuteronomy is the second law. It's the law by which man lives. It's a reiteration of the Mosaic law that God gave. And in Deuteronomy 8, let me just kind of read you what God says here. "All the commandments that I'm commanding you today you shall be careful to do." God says, "Okay, I've given you all these commandments, I've reiterated My law, now I'm giving them to you and I'm telling you, you need to be careful to do these things, to obey them, and if you do you will live and multiply and you'll go in to possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your fathers." So He says to them, the key to life, the key to a future, the key to the land is not bread, not military power, but obedience, right? You obey My law and I'll make sure you have everything you need. I'll make sure you're fed. I'll make sure you’re led. I'll get you to the land. I'll give you the kingdom.
"And remember all the way which the Lord your God led you in the wilderness for forty years that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not." And remember, He says the people of Israel were tested in the wilderness for forty years whether they would obey God and they failed the test, right? Well, in an interesting parallel, Jesus was tested in the wilderness not forty years but forty days and He passed the test. You see, what happened in the wilderness was they began to distrust God's love, didn't they? And what did they do? They murmured and they murmured because God hadn't given them the food they wanted. They hankered after the leeks and the garlics and the stuff they had had in Egypt.
It wasn't enough that they had manna and the things that God provided for them. So again this food issue comes up. Forty years in the wilderness they were tested and they failed the test and they all died in the wilderness. And now He says you're going to go into the land, let me tell you, folks, you're coming in the land now and I'm just telling you, you saw what happened to people who don't trust Me, who don't trust My love and don't trust my provision. I'm telling you, if you want to live and you want to multiply, that's have children and grow a nation, you want to go in and have a prosperous life, then worry not about the bread and worry not about the diet. In the words of the Sermon on the Mount, "Don't take any thought for what you're going to eat, or what you're going to drink, seek first (what?) the kingdom.” You obey Me. You obey Me. You obey me.
And then He says in verse 3, "You have to understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of God." If you want to live your life, you obey My Word and I'll take care of your bread.
And that's really the right...and that's what Jesus tells the devil...that's the right answer. I'll tell you, folks, you do not eat...you do not live because you eat. You live because God is determined to give you life and provide your meals. As soon as God determines you're not going to live anymore, you're not going to live anymore. God determined that you were born and when and God determines that you shall die and when. You don't live because you eat. You eat because God determined you live.
Lots of people who have lots of food, die. That's what Jesus is saying. Life isn't a matter of what you eat. Life is a matter of the purposes of God, isn't it? That's all in God's hand. If God wants me to live, He'll feed me. I trust Him for that. So Jesus transcends this personal thing. You know, you hear all this preaching today about felt needs, felt needs. Satan is coming to Jesus and saying, "Yeah, I know about obeying the Word of God, I know about obeying the Word of God, I...I...I, but You're hungry, You're hungry, You're hungry, why don't you grab something and satisfy Your felt need?" That...that’s...that kind of approach is devilish, not divine. You don't approach people on the basis of felt need. You approach people on the basis of obeying God. Believing the gospel is a command. So is everything else that God lays out for us.
And Jesus we expect to answer the way He answers. He just really...He says, "I don't live because of bread, I live because God has determined My life." I'm not concerned about personal sacrifices, I will exalt the Word and the will of God, I will do exactly what the Father tells Me to do, I will obey His Word because that's how every person lives. You live because God gives you life and God will give you life if you obey Him.
In the New Testament, He even talks about people whose life is shortened because of disobedience, right? "Sin unto death," things like that. I mean, the broad principle of life is you live because God lets you live. Man doesn't live by bread alone. Israel, forty years in the wilderness, guess what? They had manna, they had bread, bread, bread, bread, bread. What happened to them? They died. They all died. What happened to Moses? He died and never entered the Promised Land; plenty of bread, no life. You don't live because of bread, that's why He quotes from Deuteronomy because it fits the scene so well, parallels the people of Israel wandering for forty years and Jesus forty days. They failed the test, they died. Jesus passes the test of trust in God, He lives.
So in contrast to Israel who is in the wilderness saying, "Oh, we don't like this bread, we're not happen with this bread," disobeying God and making an idol and worshiping an idol and complaining and murmuring and sinning every which way and they all die in the wilderness. Bread couldn't keep them alive, even bread from heaven couldn't keep them alive. Even God sending down quail they could just pick out of the air and eat didn't keep them alive because sin brought their life to an end. That's all in God's hand.
So in contrast to Israel, Jesus says, "I'll trust God, I'll obey God, I'll obey God in every way and I'll trust God to do for Me what He needs to do. Keep Me alive. All I'm concerned about is seeking the kingdom." You understand that parallel with Matthew? “My food,” John 4:34, “is to do the will of Him who sent Me.”
By the way, when this was over, Matthew said the angels came and ministered to Him. I think they brought bread. Just because you don't think they just came and sang songs. He's hungry. When it says the angels came and served Him, they served Him bread. Songs are nice but there are times when you need bread.
What Jesus is doing here is He's affirming His absolute confidence in God. He's affirming what Paul says, "My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus." He knows God will meet every need. He has no question about that. He has no doubt about that. He will obey God and in the terms of Deuteronomy 28 He will obey God and enjoy the blessing that comes from obedience. And you remember Deuteronomy 28, God said to Israel, you remember He was contrasting cursing and blessing in Deuteronomy 28, the first 14 verses, He says, "You do this, you do this, you do this, you obey Me, you obey Me, I'll bless you, I'll bless you, I'll bless you, I'll bless you. I'll provide everything you need." And Jesus is saying that's how you live, you live by obeying God and God provides everything you need. I'm not going to distrust God for that because I know my God.
Oh He says to Satan, I guess, in effect, "Satan, you are presuming that a man needs bread to live. I'll tell you what you need to live. You need to be obedient to God and then you will live the full life that God grants to His obedient children. It's not the bread that keeps you alive. It's the creative energizing sustaining power of God that keeps you alive." If He wants Me to live, Jesus is saying, He'll give Me bread, I trust Him. I trust Him.
In Matthew 4:11, the angels came. I think they probably brought the best bread ever. Then came the next temptation. Verses 5 to 8, and we're not going to be able to finish this but we'll...well we'll run and see what happens. Verse 5: "He led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time." Matthew adds, "He led Him up on a high mountain." We don't know what this means, it all happened in a moment of time. So I don't think they took a long hike. Maybe they went to the...one of the peaks there. Maybe this was some kind of supernatural vision. After all, Satan can go from earth to heaven to the presence of God, he's a supernatural being, he can move in dimensions that we don't know, and so could Jesus, and perhaps did. But anyway, they went somewhere from which there was a vantage point where you could see Greece and you could see Rome and you could see...you could see Egypt and you could see the sweeping kingdoms of the world and maybe you could see all the kingdoms of the world. Maybe there was some way in which this became a supernatural vision because it says he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
This is the second temptation, not to distrust God's love, but distrust God's plan, to distrust God's plan. He didn't succeed on the first one, so here's another subtle one. He leads Him up to a high mountain, according to Matthew 4:8, to a high place and shows Him either...either they're looking out across that area, or probably more likely there's some vision element to this, some way in which supernaturally they can perceive the world, the whole of the kingdoms of the world all in a moment of time pass before them.
"And the devil said to Him," in verse 6, "I will give you all this domain and its glory..." Wow, I'll give it to You. What's he saying? "Ah, You know, look at You, Jesus, look at You, here You are in this terrible barren place, this devastation, this rocky, craggy, lifeless place. Here You are. You possess nothing. You've got the clothes on Your back. You have no food, You have nothing. Here You are and You are the Son of God." That's the implication, Matthew indicates, that again is reiterated to him. And it may have reminded him of Psalm 2:8 which says, "Ask of Me and I'll give the nations as Your inheritance and the very ends of the earth as Your possession."
He's saying, "Oh really, this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased and He has nothing and I haven't given Him anything. How does that work?" He could have perhaps even reminded Jesus of some pretty powerful words in the 7th chapter of Daniel in which there is a vision and it says in Daniel 7:13, "I kept looking in the night visions, behold with the clouds of heaven, one like a Son of Man was coming, came up to the Ancient of Days." The Son of Man, the Lord Jesus, comes up to God, "And it was presented before Him and to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away. His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed." There's a vision of the Father giving the Son the kingdoms of the world. So Psalm 2:8, Daniel 7:13 and 14. So where are the kingdoms? "Here You are, Jesus, here You are in this destitute place, You're hungry, You're absolutely alone, You have no possessions, You have nothing. You have nothing. I'll tell you what. I'll give it to You. I'll give it all to You, give it all to You. You can bypass any more humiliation. You've had thirty years living in that obscure place called Nazareth, that out-of-the-way town, that hick town up there. You've had thirty years of making tables and chairs and putting in beams in a roof, building a wall. You've had thirty years of absolute obscurity working with Your father in the construction business. And now You've had forty days wandering around in this horrible place. You've had enough humiliation. Don't You think it's time for You to take hold of what is really rightfully Yours? I mean, wasn't this promised to You? Shouldn't You have it? I'm willing to give it to You."
And then Satan makes this serious overstatement in verse 6, "For it has been handed over to me and I give it to whomever I wish." Oh really? Boy, did he have an inflated opinion of himself and his power. There is some truth in that and Satan always likes to deal in half-truth. He is called in John 12:31, John 14:30, John 16:11, "the ruler of this world." That's true. In 1 John 5:19 it says, "The whole world lies in his lap." In 2 Corinthians 4:4 he's called, "the god of this age." It does not mean that he literally possesses the nations of the world. What it means is that he rules the system of evil that dominates the nations of the world.
According to Acts 17 it is God who sets the boundaries of the nations, isn't it? Paul on Mars Hill. It's God in whom we live and move and have our being and it's God who is the one who designs and turns the boundaries and times and seasons of nations. And furthermore, you remember old Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar thought he was higher than God. He thought he was king of the whole universe. And when he elevated himself to that point, the Lord knocked him down and he became for seven years like a wild animal. His fingernails grew like bird's claws and his hair grew like feathers and he was wandering around outside with the dew on his back eating, grazing like an animal for seven years. This is Nebuchadnezzar, for seven years eating like an animal. At the end of the seven years he comes to his senses, in Daniel 4:17 he says, "Thee Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes."
Satan can't give it to anybody. He simply rules the system of evil. He does not determine the nations and who rules the nations. In fact, Romans 13 says the hours that be are ordained by God. But Satan is a liar. Not only did he not have the power to give it, it wasn't his to begin with anyway. He doesn't... I like what Luther says, "The devil is God's devil." It's an interesting statement, isn't it? He can't move one inch in any direction outside God's permission and purpose. But he says to Jesus, "I can make life easy for You, You deserve it, You're the Son of God, You've just heard, 'This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,' and You're supposed to have the kingdoms of the world for Your own. You're supposed to be the ruler, You're supposed to have all. And I can tell You right now, it's been given to me and I will gladly give it to You. Certainly will, and You can just go right to the crown, You can forget the cross, You've had enough suffering, You don't need the next three years of agony, You don't need to be going up there to Nazareth again and have them try to throw You off a cliff. You don't need to go down to Jerusalem and have everybody hate You and try to plot Your death. You certainly don't need to be scourged and whipped near death. You don't need to be put on a cross, nailed up there, have thorns crammed in You. You don't need to go through all of that terrible, horrible death. Just hey...I'm willing to give You the whole thing, it's mine, I can give it to whomever I wish and I would like to give it to You.” However, there's one condition, verse 7, “Therefore if You worship before me it shall all be Yours."
Now Satan has a problem with this. It's what got him kicked out of heaven to start with. He wanted to be worshiped. "I will be like the Most High God," that was his thing. "I will be... I want to be worshiped, I want to be worshiped," that's what he... That's what he sought to do and that's how he rebelled and that's why he was hastily placed out of heaven and that's why a lake of fire was prepared for him and all those who were in his rebellion. And he hasn't changed at all. He still wants to be worshiped. He still wants to be worshiped. He concocts religions all over the face of the earth that ultimately are forms of worshiping him. All the idols are demons, the Bible says. So you're worshiping a false god and a false religion, you're worshiping the devil.
But that's not enough. Now he wants to be worshiped by the Son of God. In fact, that would be the ultimate for him. Could you imagine if he could get the Son of God to start worshiping him instead of God? That would almost be like accomplishing his original rebellion where he sought to be as high as God. If he could get the second member of the Trinity to worship him, he's achieved what he wanted in the first place.
What marks Lucifer is the lust for worship, the lust for worship. You read Ezekiel 28 and you read Isaiah 14 and you read about that lust for worship. He says, proskynēsēs enōpion, which means "bow down before me as Your lord and I'll give it all to You."
You know, that was a lie. Do you think he would if he could have? You think he would have done that? You think if Jesus had bowed down to him he would have done that? Not on your life. He's a liar and the father of lies. This is egomaniacal, just worship me, this is brash, astounding evil pride. But he's saying to Jesus, bypass the cross, come on I'll just give You the crown. What he really wants Jesus to do is sin against the Father by distrusting the Father's plan, which involved the cross before the crown, suffering before glory, humiliation before exaltation. And he's saying, I'll give You a painless path.
Now we can identify with that kind of temptation, to distrust God's plan. You can say in your life, I don't like the way things are going, why did it have to be like this? This isn't the way I would want it. God, You know, this is taking a long time to unfold, I hear about being a Christian, being blessed. I see lots of sorrow, lots of problems, lots of pain. I've got illness, I've got this, I've got that. You know, the suffering part, I don't know how long I can take this. Is there a shortcut to the...to the glory? Is there a quick path to the crown? I'm not sure I want to do it Your way anymore, I think I'm going to grab some satisfaction for myself.
And off you go into a path of sin you think will bring satisfaction. But Jesus gives the right answer. In verse 8 He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13, out of Deuteronomy again, "Jesus answered and said to him, 'It is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”'"
Boy, that's so clear, isn't it? Jesus immediately and instantaneously, without a capacity to sin, responds by saying, "God alone is worthy of loyal worship and allegiance, I will not worship you, I will worship God alone because that's what Scripture demands of Me and that's what I will do. It is God's will that He be worshiped and He alone and that is what I will do." Here is obedience in its perfection.
Here are the children of Israel forty years in the wilderness. They're supposed to be worshiping the true God. Along comes Satan and tells them to worship an idol, and what do they do? Worship an idol. They failed the test.
Here is Jesus forty days in the wilderness. He's told to worship an idol, if you will, Satan, and He will not. He will worship God. He makes no deals with the devil. There is no shortcut to glory. He will follow the plan, whatever the plan has, however painful the plan might be, however deep the suffering, however far down He has to go, even to death, to death on the cross. If that's where the Father plans for Him to go, that's where He's going to go because He's going to worship God and glorify God and God alone and make no compromise with the devil.
“Worship” is a great word here. So is the word “serve.” It's the word latreuō. It means religious service, spiritual service. Whatever the cost, whatever the sacrifice, He will serve the only God and the only one worthy of worship.
When the Lord gives this answer, He really helps us. He shows us that we can be strong against temptation to distrust the love of God, strong against temptation to distrust the plan of God. We face those kinds of things. We can't make stones into bread and we can't assume to take over the world, but we can certainly be disloyal and disobedient. We can certainly question God's love and question God's plan. That is sin. You understand that? That is sin. It would have been sin for Jesus, it is sin for us. My God will supply all your needs. You seek the kingdom; He'll provide everything you need. He has a plan and it's a plan for good and it's a plan for glory and it's a plan for a crown, but the path is the path of suffering, right? That's the plan. Don't make bargains with the devil to avoid the suffering.
So you have some trouble in your life. So it isn't all that you would like it to be. The testing of your faith builds strength, doesn't it? Makes you trust God more, love God more, depend on God more, hope more for the glory to come. Stay obedient, trust His love, trust His plan.
And then Satan turns an amazing corner in one of the most incredibly devious moves he could make. If you want to know what it is, you have to come back. We're out of time. The last assault is really clever. That's next time. Let's pray.
Father, it seems as though we hurried a bit, talked a little rapidly to cover the ground and I can only pray that the message of this text was not lost to us. Oh we see the wonder of the Son of God as He stands resolute, unmoved, unbending, unflinching, unaffected by the onslaught of the clever, subtle, deceptive enemy. We thank You that He triumphed. We thank You that He conquers sin and Satan and therefore can conquer him for us. We thank You that the devil is defeated, that Jesus delivered the mortal blow to his head, and he is now under our feet, a vanquished foe. May we never distrust Your love, always being obedient; never distrust Your plan, always being content even to suffer and wait to see all our needs met and our glory unfold. We thank You for our Savior as a victor over sin and Satan, as a model for us to follow in our own struggle. In His name we pray. Amen.