1st Sunday in Lent – Sermon 186

13th February 2011 Off By Derek Buckthorpe

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the Glory and Honour of our Lord Jesus Christ



‘The Temptations’

The traditional gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent –

Filled with the Holy Spirit –Jesus returned from the river Jordan after His Baptism – and wandered into the wilderness – led by the Spirit – to be tempted by the devil –

Temptations are something we all get – voices in our heads – trying to raise our doubts and fears – trying to get us to do something different – to what God wants us to do

Temptations are not the same as sins – Temptations are strong appeals from inside us – that try to persuade us to satisfy our legitimate desires that God Himself built into us –

But they become temptations – when they try to get us to do things – in the wrong circumstances – by the wrong means – or for the wrong motives –

Three temptations are highlighted in the Bible reading –the ones that most of us fall for every time –  

First Point    First Temptation  


‘If you are God’s Son – tell this stone to become a loaf of bread’

Jesus had spent 40 days in the desert – and He was hungry –

As God’s Son – He would have the ability to transform anything into anything – and the suggestion to turn stone into bread would have been trivial for Him –

so why not make the situation easier for Himself?-

Well – in the desert – Jesus was confronted with the same choices that Adam and Eve once faced – the same choices that the Israelites faced – in the wilderness on their journey to the promised land-

Wanting to consume what they were not supposed to consume – or not being prepared to follow or depend on God’s generosity –

They grumbled and rebelled because of food – and it led to their eventual downfall –

Jesus – knew that this time – there must be no failure – or those that will follow will be lost –

So He responds with words from the book of Dueteronomy – ‘Man shall not live by bread alone’ – (a quote from Dueteronomy (8:3)

If the choice was between doing God’s work – in God’s way – or doing God’s work His own way – Jesus will choose God’s way –

Yes – food was important – we all need it to survive – but loyalty to God is more important

Bread sustains us – but doesn’t guarantee life – life is God’s gift – to those who live by His word – follow His commands and trust in His promises.
This was a fundamental truth – that the people of Israel learned during their time in the desert –
they were humbled and realized that they had to be totally dependent on God – to fully appreciate His grace –

The gifts Jesus has – which He will soon display in healing – are to be used to restore others to life and strength – and not for His own benefit – or to make His personal circumstances easier –

We face similar questions about how we should use our gifts – are we using them fully for God’s purposes – or just for our own personal comfort or gain?

Are there some gifts we are keeping to ourselves and not using for the good of others?

Our OT reading about the giving back of the first fruits – reminds us that everything we have has been given to us – by God –

Its part of the inheritance He has promised to His people – we in turn therefore need to thank Him – and show our appreciation – by giving back the fruits of His generosity – and that includes our gifts –

God is not looking for our leftovers – that test our faith very little – but the most important part of ourselves – which tests our faith to the limit –



Point 2       Second Temptation


For the second temptation – Satan takes Jesus to a great height and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world – ‘All this dominion – I will give you – and the glory that goes with it – if you pay homage to me.’

Jesus had just been heralded by God – ‘As His beloved Son’ – the chosen Messiah – the world’s true Lord – and King
The responsibility for bringing God’s message of love and salvation to the world – has therefore rested on His shoulders –

How will He convince them? – will they really – take any notice of what He says?

And – in this hostile land of Israel – Kings don’t seem to last very long

Again Jesus responds with a passage from Deuteronony (6:13)

‘Scripture says -You shall do homage to the Lord your God and worship Him alone’

Jesus knew that the path to achieving true greatness – is not through using status and power over others – but about humble service towards God – and others –

Jesus is committed to trusting God completely – to loving and serving God alone – the devil may offer undreamed of – power and popularity – but Israel’s loving God – the one who Jesus knew as Father – offers Him much more – the reality of what it means to be human – and to be the Messiah

Jesus had come to do His Fathers will – and His will alone – and only with the Father’s help will His mission succeed –

Like Jesus – We too need to focus ourselves exclusively on God – to give Him rights over everything we are and do –

We need to realize that we cannot achieve anything worthwhile without Him – we cannot achieve true happiness or fulfillment by our plans alone –



Point 3     


Which brings us to the third temptation:

If you are the Son of God – ‘throw yourself from here – said the devil – His Angels will catch you – you know they will – for fear you should strike your foot on a stone’

Satan’s way is to do the spectacular – to use God to get yourself noticed – to use the situation to show how important you are to God – in other words to portray an image that under-minds God’s authority –

Jesus saw through the trap – He answers again with the bible – Dueteronomy (6:16) –

‘You are not to put the Lord God to the test ‘

Jesus is committed to living off God’s word – trusting God completely without setting up trick tests to put Him on the spot –

The power that Jesus has will not be used for cheap stunts – but to restore others to life – His status as God’s son commits Him – not to go for fame – but to follow the path of humility – service and finally death –

Like Jesus we should realize that its God’s authority that needs to be noticed by others – not ours

We should not use God – to make other people admire us – but humble servants ready to tell of God’s greatness and power.

Acknowledge ‘Jesus as Lord’ and our belief in His resurrection from the dead – says Paul – and ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’





Throughout His temptations Jesus face one overriding question – ‘what does it mean to be God’s son in this world?’ – we face a similar question about our relationship with God – ‘ what does it mean to be a child of God in this world?’

Filled with the Holy Spirit – Jesus was able to
remain single-minded – in His devotion to God – and to kick-start His mission and ministry in the way that God has chosen for Him –

He was tempted in the areas of humanities greatest needs – physical comforts – the need for security – the need to be accepted and to influence others-

The temptations we face day by day – and at critical times – in our lives – may be very different to Jesus – but they have the same purpose

To entice us to commit sin and to detract us from the path of true service and of our relationship with God –

The enemy will do everything he can to entice us away – But as God’s children we need to resist and like Jesus use the defenses God provides

We need to store up Scripture in our hearts – know how to use it and what it means – to help to keep us and others on God’s chosen path
– to keep ourselves fixed on God and trust in Him for everything
– to remember our calling to bring God’s light into the world – and to say a firm ‘no’ to the voices that lure us back into the darkness –

As we set out on our wilderness journey in Lent – let us therefore – work on our defenses – reflect on our need to maintain – ever faithful –

and keep our hearts and minds firmly fixed on the One who will lead us safely through

Prayer to Finish