February 14, 2016 Text: Luke 4:1-13
Dear Friends in Christ,
Tell me, have you ever heard any of these statements? If you let me use the car I’ll put gas in it. If you don’t give me back my ball I am going to pound you. If the weather is bad and I can’t go fishing or golfing or to my kid’s ballgame I’ll be in church. If you love me I will give you what you want. If you can’t be good then you are going to bed.
These are conditional sentences. Each sentence has a promised result “if” the desired activity is done or not done. The big IF might get us into trouble like cheating on a test, having sex before marriage or playing games with our eternal welfare.
Today the devil comes to Jesus with some conditional sentences. Let’s see how the Savior deals with . . .
“THE BIG IF’S”
The first devil-contrived IF sentence is this. “IF you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” Oh, so clever, well played Beelzebub. Jesus hasn’t eaten in forty days. Notice the question, “IF you are the Son of God…” If he doesn’t do what Satan says then he must not be the Son of God. If he does what Satan asks then he will be obeying the devil. Satan wants Jesus to distrust his Father and do the will of Satan.
Ever been tempted like this? Either way you look bad in the eyes of someone. If you do what your friends ask, your parents might be angry. If you don’t do what your friends want, then you look bad in their eyes. Oh, that crafty Lucifer. Remember he has had practice since the Garden of Eden. He wants you to doubt the goodness of God.
Satan now comes at Jesus with more ammunition. “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. IF you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus must worship Satan to receive this. What a crock of lies. Satan has no power to give the kingdoms of the world. The Lord as Creator has the world in his hands.
What a liar this guy. He lied to Adam and Eve that they would be like God. How has that been going these last 4,000 years? He promised Judas thirty pieces of silver. He was so happy with this gift that he went and hung himself. The deception never works.
Satan may tempt us to think that if we work long enough and hard enough we will succeed and get all the things of this world that we want. This IF sentence might be true but at what price? Your marriage? Your children? Your faith? Satan wants you to be envious of others. He wants your eyes removed from Christ and on the earthly goods that others have. We fight back with the Word of God. “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.”
The last temptation has Satan telling Jesus to throw himself down from the pinnacle of the temple because the Lord’s angels will protect Him. This babbling blowhard even quotes Scripture. Except he leaves a few parts out. He twists it to fit his thinking. Satan wants Jesus to think that no matter what he does he will be safe.
Ever get caught with this one? Don’t take your medicine, it won’t hurt you. Join the party crowd, after all what can really happen? I don’t need to worship every Sunday. I was baptized and confirmed, I must be God’s child, right? The devil wants you thinking wrong is right. After all, you are forgiven right? Sin boldly. Not so fast, my friend. Sin does matter to God. Sin does matter to society and the direction we are going. Sin does matter to your eternal destination.
This Prince of Darkness loses. None of this worked on the King of Kings. Jesus won! Even as we lose battles with our archenemy we know that Jesus defeated this pompous imposter. Listen to Romans 5:19. “Through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” At the cross Jesus said the one word that takes the pain of our temptation away – “finished.” Right there and then the devil was done. He still has power but it is limited. Jesus stands in the ring with his hands held high.
Those same hands were nailed and bled for our salvation. The obedient Christ did the will of the Father as he was crucified, died and rose again. He lives! We never tire of the Lenten story because it is our story. Because He lives, we live, forever, in the blessed home of heaven. Jesus triumphs over Satan.
Jesus used Scripture to overcome these powerful IF temptations. We too rely on the Word of God when we are tempted by the big IF’s. We thank Jesus for His unconditional love that has saved us. That’s no big IF, that’s a promise from our Savior.