I am known as a tempter, a deceiver and schemer. My goal is to take anything good and wreck it. I have had many, many successes. Eve is the earliest. I was able to confuse her. Oh she had it so good there in the garden… By manipulating the truth just a bit I totally wrecked her life, her relationship with Adam and with God.
I also messed with Abraham, Moses, Saul, David, Solomon, even Peter. The list is endless. And, I’m sure I’ve messed with you.
So the day Jesus entered the wilderness I was poised for another great victory. I watched as he spent 40 long days in solitude. I waited until he was at his weakest… he was lonely, hungry, and he was likely preparing for his next move. At just the right moment, I pounced!
The Israeli desert is rocky, dry and dirty. Loose stones the size of fists cover the landscape. Just walking can be a chore. And finding a spot to kneel and pray is impossible. With just the right amount of prompting, and the early morning light just so, I knew that Jesus was famished, I figured I may be able to convince him to see small loaves of bread where the path was covered with rocks. This was going to be easier than Eve. He hadn’t eaten in 40 days. Appealing to his flesh and his position, I said: “If you really are the Son of God, and since you are hungry, why not turn these stones into bread… satisfy your hunger. Can’t you taste a fresh baked loaf, Jesus? Mmmmm.”
Even though he was famished and his body weak, his mind was sharp. He quoted Torah and said: “No one can live on bread alone. People need every word that God has spoken. The word is life. The word is my sustenance, Satan.”
He was stronger than I thought he’d be after 40 days without food.
We walked along for awhile together. I took him to the City. The air was hot, not a cloud in the sky. Although no one could see us, we went to the top of Solomon’s great temple. We looked down from the height above and saw people going about their day… the women to the markets and the men to their work. Bright colored awnings peppered the walkway below. I pretended to push him off and challenged his ego. If this is about words supporting him, how about these words from Scripture: “God will give his angels orders about you, Jesus. They will catch you in their arms. Jump, Jesus, Jump!”
He replied by quoting other words from God: “Don’t try to test the Lord!”
I schemed again how I might tempt him… I knew that God has given me the power over this earth, so I used that authority as a bargaining chip… I would gladly give that up if I could get Jesus to merely bow to me! I’m still angry at God… It was supposed to be me on that throne in heaven! So we went north to Mt. Hermon, the highest elevation in all of the Promised Land. He was still physically weak. Surely I could get him to yield. “Look to the mountains in the east and the great sea to the west. This can all be yours, Jesus… all you have to do is bow before me. Think of it… you can bring your people your kind of peace, for all time… think of the wealth of this land, the bounty and riches of the fertile crescent, the many palaces of King Herod… I’ll see to it that it is all yours to do with as you wish… merely worship me.”
This time, he didn’t bow, he bellowed: “Go away, Satan!” Again he quoted the Word of God: “Worship the Lord, the One True God and serve only Him.”
Others were so much easier to cripple… I will continue to press on this one, the Son of God… but for now, I will leave him. I will leave him. But I will be back!
The words, actions and thoughts, perhaps, of Satan during temptation of Jesus in Matthew, Chapter 4.
Do you know you have the power to defeat the enemy? Use the words of God and the truth of the scriptures. Use the authority Jesus gives to all of us. Most important, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 (NIV).
Original sermon video is found here.