Matt 4:1-11; Romans 5:12-19; Gen. 2:15-17
Our Lenten Season has begun and this year we are going to look at how people from the Bible spent moments with Jesus. Normally when I think of someone who wants a moment with Jesus, I think of a student and a teacher scenario. Having time with Jesus is a precious and humbling experience or at least it is to me. Hopefully you will have time this Lenten Season to have some of these moments with Jesus as well.
This is our first week and as you heard from our Gospel text our first person to have a moment with Jesus is, Satan. Well, now that isn’t exactly the first person we might think of to have a moment with Jesus. Yet, if we look at Matthew, Mark and Luke’s Gospel accounts we see that after Jesus is baptized and his ministry is begun, Satan is actually the first recorded encounter Jesus has. As soon as His ministry began, Satan was there to try and interfere. Why does Satan have to get the first crack at Jesus? Before Jesus can even begin to teach or tell the people about the Kingdom of God, Satan comes to Him and tries to pull Him away from the ministry He was sent to accomplish.
This isn’t the way anyone wants to start the most important stage in their life! Yet too often these are the people Satan attacks most often. Fresh, newborn Christians or those who are steadfast, faithful followers are prime meat for Satan.
So let’s see how Jesus deals with Satan’s as they have a few moments together. As we begin to read about these moments between Satan and Jesus we get uncomfortable. Can’t you just feel the loneliness as we hear that the Spirit led him into the wilderness to be tempted. In the Bible wilderness is a place but it is also a state of being. It is a place filled with nothing but desert sand, hot sun and dangerous creatures. Wilderness was a time in life when you felt alone, out of touch and desolate. Jesus is baptized and immediately led into the wilderness. 40 days of wilderness, Jesus must have been exhausted and hungry beyond our imagination. Then, like in a movie when danger enters, we flinch when we read, “Then the tempter came to him…” “No,” I want to shout, “leave Jesus alone.”
Yet Jesus doesn’t run from the tempter, he doesn’t even turn away from him. Jesus just responds to each temptation with scripture, words from the God. Jesus doesn’t seem as upset by Satan’s appearance. Why? Because Jesus is ready. He knows who He is and He knows that Satan has no power over Him. Jesus has an answer to any temptation Satan might use.
Does Satan see these moments with Jesus as his ultimate challenge? What is Satan thinking as he comes to Jesus in the wilderness? Satan is known for his deceitful ways. Remember the story we read in Genesis today? Satan is good at what he does. He knows how to hit at the weakest point and so he patiently waits until Jesus is exhausted and starving and then he shows up there in the wilderness.
Satan’s first words, are “If you are the Son of God…” Satan’s attack begins with questioning Jesus’ very identity. Turning the stone into bread…well, Jesus could have but not to prove to Satan that He was the Son. Jesus knew His identity and Satan could not make Him question it. Satan begins his second attempt the same way, “If you are the Son of God…” Jesus doesn’t have to put on a show to know who He is.
Satan’s third temptation seems to ignore the fact that Jesus has not even waivered on staying strong in his identity and not giving in to his temptations. Satan takes Jesus to a high pinnacle and shows him “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” What is it that Satan is offering here? “All the kingdoms of the world and their splendor” – at first I want to say, Satan can’t give what isn’t his BUT wait…the kingdoms of the world…of the world…yes indeed. In John 12:31 Jesus calls Satan “the prince of this world.” Satan and his evil ways had a hold of much of the world around them. Satan was tempting Jesus by saying you can have power over all the world, if Jesus would bow down and worship Satan. Jesus didn’t need power, He had love and mercy and that was all he would need to save the whole world. Jesus told him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” That was it. Once Jesus had dismissed Satan, he was gone.
Jesus and Satan had a moment – but it was only a moment. His temptations could not touch Jesus. Jesus was sent for one reason and giving Satan any more attention wasn’t a part of it!
How defeated must Satan have felt? He could not tempt Jesus but we know Satan was never far away. He used others continually to try and trick Jesus and to stop His mission. Satan would not win though, Satan could not and cannot win against Jesus!
I wonder, did Satan leave more determined than he had been before? Is Satan as determined to spread evil as Jesus is to spread love? NO WAY! Do you know how I know? Because you will never see Satan give his own life for the sake of those he is trying to gain. Never will Satan stand in defense of one of his followers and take the punishment on himself.
Only Jesus, Jesus Christ our Savior, goes that far to save one of His own.
This Lenten Season as we are focusing on Moments with Jesus and taking time to read from the scriptures and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Satan is angry.
He is watching closely for us to be weak and then he will try to have a moment with us too. The Evil One will say to us, “If you really are a Christian….you can break that fast, you can take that challenge from your peer…If you really are a Christian. He may even put the “whole world” (however that translates for you – the next promotion, the best position on the team) all of it right in front of you and offer it to you… if, if you will worship HIM.
Are you ready to answer Satan’s temptations? You may not be BUT Jesus is always ready with an answer for Satan…NO. Take time with Jesus, read His word, listen to His counsel and do His Will. And if Satan comes to try and have a moment with you…you can declare, “In the name of Jesus Christ my Savior, Away with you!” Moments with Jesus empower us to fight the temptations and continue the work of loving God, loving ourselves and loving others!