Monday, February 25, 2013

Sermon Feb. 16-17, 2013

Title: Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

Text: Luke 4:12

13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

The men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ring-tailed monkey. 

For the Zulus of that continent, however, it's simple. They've been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it. This he cannot do. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can't get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

Source Unknown.

Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

Sin and temptation we all know it too well. Jesus knew temptation yet was without sin. You might think well He’s God, so He had His divine God-ness on his side. He’s all-powerful, all-knowing, and omnipresent. But, it wasn’t the God nature of the God/man that was being tempted. It was the human nature of the God/man that was put to the test.

The truth is that at the incarnation God and man became one in Jesus Christ. He is fully God and fully man. Not part God and part man or God and man mixed together into this Jesus.
4 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. (Luke 4:1-2)

When we speak of Jesus we need to speak of His humanity in real terms. We need to speak of things that are part of His human nature. Things like time, temptation and hunger for example … are things we can all relate to.

About 40 days ago I was ordained into the ministry. Over those 40 days I've been tempted many times with, unfortunately, sin being the result. I've done and said things and not done things that I should’ve done. I fall short daily. Thank God, I eat … and I eat well, because I've never experienced true hunger, like the type of hunger that Jesus must have felt. This was no little stomach growl, this was hunger that you and I can’t even imagine. 

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” (Luke 4:3-4)
Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

It was Pastor F.B. Meyer, I believe, who once said that when we see a brother or sister in sin, there are two things we do not know: First, we do not know how hard he or she tried not to sin. And second, we do not know the power of the forces that assailed him or her. We also do not know what we would have done in the same circumstances. 

Stephen Brown, Christianity Today, April 5, 1993, p. 17.

The truth is that sin is not just thought, word and deed. It is not just trying hard not to sin. It is who we are. Sin is what we are born in. Now, this is not to excuse it but to understand our human nature. You will fail and you will sin. At times it is blatant and at times you are unaware. Sin permeates our very being and that is why Satan so hounds you and me. 

He knows that when presented with a little sin it will lead to a bigger sin and the bigger the sin the guiltier you will feel. You will feel shame, and at times guilt for your actions, even an unkind word or a word misplaced can cause hurt. Even truth can at times bring condemnation. Martin Luther knew that as he was confronted with the Pope’s rejection of 41 articles of his 95 theses.
He writes in response:

“This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness, not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it, the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road. All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.” 

Martin Luther, *Defense of All the Articles*, Lazareth transl., as found in Grace Brame, *Receptive Prayer* (Chalice Press, 1985) p.119

Though you are forgiven you must die and rise daily.  When you fall you must remember that Jesus stood the test of the Devil’s temptation and though tempted in every way He was without sin. Perfection is not who we are but it is who He is … and we can all have joy because:
Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

There is a story that as the Union Pacific Railroad was being constructed, an elaborate trestle bridge was built across a large canyon in the West.  Wanting to test the bridge, the builder loaded a train with enough extra cars and equipment to double its normal payload. The train was then driven to the middle of the bridge, where it stayed an entire day. One worker asked, "Are you trying to break this bridge?" "No," the builder replied, "I'm trying to prove that the bridge won't break." In the same way, Jesus when faced, with temptations would withstand all that the Devil could give and more for you. 

Today in the Word, March 14, 1991.

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 
Satan here uses the most subtle of temptations; “Command this stone to become bread.”  He simply desires Christ, to abuse the power which He possessed as God’s Son for the gratification of the desires of the body.  Jesus answers Satan’s temptation with the word of God: 

4 … “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.” 
Or as God’s word reads in Deut 8:3:

3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deut 8:3)
Our Lutheran study Bible tells us:

That God’s provision of mana humbled the Israelites and that they quickly found that they could not provide for themselves. Instead, they had to trust in God for their daily bread.

Pg 291 Study Note 

“Give us this day our daily bread.” We ask of the Lord in the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, which includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body; because Christ wants us to realize that our entire life and that of everyone else depends of God.

Question/ Answer 219 Luther’s Small Catechism

But again, the temptation of the Devil continues:

“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. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”

And Jesus answers:

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

This time Jesus brings God’s word to bear in Deut. 6:13
13 It is the LORD your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. (Deut 6:13)

What does this mean - The Catechism asks? We should fear, love and trust God above all things is the answer that Luther gives in the Ten Commandments in answer to the First Commandment. You shall have no other gods.

Finally, Satan:

9 … took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’
11 and
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 
Jesus here quotes Deut 6:16 

16 “You shall not put the LORD your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah. Deut 6:16
In the close of the commandments God says: “I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Ex. 20:5–6

13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

So, when temptation sneaks up and grabs you as is the case with the ringtail monkeys. Don’t get caught with your hand full of seeds stuck in the melon with no room to get out.

13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Christ was tempted and tested so that you are forgiven!

Christ is the one who conquered sin, death and Devil for you. He took all the Devil could give and though tempted was without sin. This brings peace to you and me as we think about his sinless life and atoning death, given for the forgiveness of sins for the whole world.  

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.


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