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I preached on Luke 4:1-13 yesterday at a small church. It is longer than a typical blog post but was a brief sermon. I found this a challenging message to write because there is so many different directions you could take with it. It could easily be a sermon series. Some points of emphasis: Jesus as the last Adam, Jesus reverses what happened in the Garden of Eden, God tests and the devil tempts, there are no shortcuts in the Christian life.

Message begins:

Jesus being tempted by Satan is likely a passage that we are very familiar with. It is found in both Luke and Matthew. Each Gospel (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) is an inspired and authoritative presentation of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ – written for a particular audience and purpose.

The book of Matthew begins with the genealogy of Jesus, which seems a logical place to begin (right?), and then moves into events surrounding the birth of Jesus, John the Baptist preparing the way, and then tells about Jesus being baptized and led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan.

Luke does things a little differently. He jumps right into events surrounding the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus, and eventually gets to Jesus being baptized. And sandwiched between the baptism of Jesus and Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness is the genealogy. It seems a strange place to put the genealogy, but if we look more closely I think there is a purpose for this order.

The genealogy is this long string of…the son of, the son of, the son of. It begins with Joseph and goes back in time until it reaches Adam. The final verse in the Luke genealogy says “the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.”

Maybe that is a bit startling: Adam, the son of God. Isn’t Jesus the Son of God? Yes, Jesus certainly is the unique Son of God. Adam is a son of God in a different sense. With all the “son ofs” in the genealogy, who is Adam the son of? Adam is presented as the direct creation of God in Genesis. Adam did not have human parents. So in that sense, Adam is the son of God.

The temptation of Jesus in Luke begins with the word  then  -or-  and depending on the version. Luke 4:1 says “Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”  So not only did Luke sandwich the genealogy between the baptism and temptation of Jesus, it indicates a connection of some type with his use of the word then.

There is an implicit comparison being made between Adam and Jesus.

Adam, the first son of God, failed in his obedience to God. We remember what happened in the opening chapters of Genesis. Through Adam and Eve, sin entered the world. Whether we like it or not, Adam became our representative. Adam’s consequences became our consequences. After Adam and Eve’s fall into sin, every human being was and is born in sin.

The representative role of Adam for the human race can be a neglected teaching. If we fail to understand it, we will not properly appreciate the great work of Jesus as the Second or Last Adam.

Romans 5:12 says: “through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.”  Several verses later it says: “For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.”

Jesus came as the ultimate man – the perfect man – the true and unique Son of God – who was fully God and fully human at the same time. Jesus is the second or last Adam. The Bible calls Jesus that.

First Corinthians 15 states “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”  – What a contrast!  Later in the same chapter it continues: “The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit…The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”

One day we will be like Jesus. That doesn’t mean we will be God, but we are in a process of transformation, being conformed into the image of Jesus.

First Corinthians 15 is all about the Resurrection of Jesus and our future resurrection. In the Apostles Creed we say that we believe in “the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” One day our mortal body that is weak and prone to sin, will be an eternal body and we will no longer sin.

To get back to our passage today, Jesus takes his stand against the scheming and devious tempter. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus succeeds when tested. Jesus does not succumb to the enemy.

Jesus reverses what happened in the Garden of Eden. He offers perfect obedience to God, not only here in the wilderness, but on the cross. Philippians 2 says, about Jesus “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”

When Jesus is tempted in the wilderness, he proves to be a worthy and sinless Savior, who is able to die on the cross for the sin of the world as our new representative, as the last Adam.

It is interesting that Adam and Eve’s showdown unfolded in Paradise and leaves humanity in the wilderness. Remember that Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden and after that everyone is born in sin.

While Jesus’ showdown or confrontation starts in the wilderness in order to get us to Paradise. Again, Jesus reverses what happened in Eden. Satan intruded in the Garden of Eden. First John 3:8 says “the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.”

Jesus being led out into the wilderness was both a test and a temptation. These two things are different, but they can both be happening at the same time, in the same event.

God tests and the devil tempts. God and Satan have different purposes. God tests us in order to prove or demonstrate, to mature, to strengthen our moral character. Satan tempts in order to deceive and destroy.

Satan’s intention was to make Christ sin in order to stop God’s plan for the redemption of humanity. Satan wanted to disqualify Jesus from being the Savior. But note that Luke 4:1 says that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. God has an intention here too. God’s purpose was to prove the Son of God sinless and thus a worthy Savior.

In one sense, this testing was not necessary because Jesus as the unique God-man could not have sinned anyway. Jesus was not born in sin as we are, so he was not capable of sinning. Yet, Jesus was living a human life, and he needed to experience the same type of things that we do.

The purpose of this testing was not to see if Jesus could sin but to demonstrate that Jesus could not sin. And because Jesus was placed in this difficult situation, it can be an example for us of how to resist temptation in our own lives.

Jesus does not say to Satan “I am God, and you are Satan; go away!”  Jesus could have immediately pulled out his power and authority card – his God badge – and sent the devil away, but that would not have glorified God nor have helped us.

This experience prepared Jesus for his high priestly ministry on our behalf. Jesus became our great high priest, fulfilling and completing the Old Testament system of mediation. Jesus became our mediator and advocate. Hebrews 4:15-16 says about Jesus:

“ For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way,
just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

God wants to help us when we are tempted. He can empathize with us. Jesus knows what it is like to be human. He was in the wilderness. Have you ever felt like you were in the wilderness? Jesus was there to! We can approach God’s throne of grace with confidence. Jesus acted and continues to act on our behalf.

It would take another sermon to really delve into the 3 ways that Jesus was tempted, but the temptations were for Jesus to misuse his miraculous power in various selfish and self-protective ways. Satan tempted Jesus to use his deity as a shortcut – either to aid his humanity or to bypass hardship, jumping to the end. I did an internet search for quotes about shortcuts, and it seems universally acknowledged that shortcuts are not a good thing.

We can learn from how Jesus resisted temptation. Jesus gives amazing importance to the Scripture!  Doesn’t He? Each time he says “it is written” and responds to Satan with Scripture. Jesus does not try to reason or argue with Satan, he simply replies with a straightforward Bible verse.

Victory over temptation, as modeled by Christ, is rooted in our knowledge and application of Scripture. Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Is God’s Word hidden in your heart? Are you familiar enough with God’s Word that it can guide you in your day to day life?

Satan can be subtle. Temptation is not always obvious. Lies can be mixed with truth. We need to be so immersed in truth that our spiritual radar will alarm, alerting us to falsehood and deception – wherever it may come from. Unfortunately, falsehood can be found in the church.

A book I read said this: “Scripture is God’s self-revelation. The better we know the truth it reveals, the more adept we become at recognizing imposters. The best counterfeits appear to be the genuine article, so the way to spot fakes is to spend lots of time handling the real thing.”

A root issue in our battle against temptation is also our trust factor. In whom will you ultimately trust? God or Satan? That may seem a no-brainer. Of course, I will trust God. Duh. But it isn’t always that easy.

And the root issue of our trust factor is our patience in waiting on God. Satan can make us doubt God. Does God really want what is best for me? Satan can make us doubt God’s love and faithfulness. Why would God make me take the long and hard way, when there is a short and easy way? In turning stones into bread or by immediately taking charge of the world’s kingdoms, Jesus would have been taking short-cuts.

In these temptations, the end held out was right enough, but the means of getting there was wrong. Jesus came into this world not only to rule as king, but first to give his life on the cross of Calvary.

The day is coming when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever – that is Revelation 11. Maybe you recognize it from Handel’s Messiah. But that day is not here yet.

The Christian life involves a patient waiting, trusting that God is present and working out his plan in our life and in this world. There is danger is trying to impose the future upon the present before the proper time. Short-cuts are not the way. Warren Weirsbe in his commentary on this passage said:

There are no shortcuts in the Christian life, and no easy way to spiritual victory and maturity. If the perfect Son of God had to hang on a tree before he could sit on the throne, then his disciples shouldn’t expect an easier way.”

I’m about to close this message, and perhaps this sounds like a discouraging way to end it. But the encouraging news is that whatever temptations or tests or trials we may have to face, we worship the God who chose to become one of his creatures and live a human life.

Jesus is the Last Adam, who succeeded where the first Adam failed, and therefore He has the right to be trusted – as one who understands our weakness – and who will exert his mighty power to help us in our time of need. We can approach the throne of grace with confidence.