The Faithful Son

January 18, 2009 ()

Bible Text: Luke 4:1-13


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Luke 4:1-13. At the baptism of Jesus, Jesus is declared to be the Son of God. He is driven by Spirit into wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Luke is making a contrast with Adam and Israel. (Adam was tempted and plunged the world into sin. Israel spend 40 years in the wilderness, but failed when tested.) What kind of Son will Jesus be? Adam failed when temped, Israel failed their testing, will Jesus? So much at stake here: Will Jesus be the faithful Son who fully obeys his Father and becomes our sinless Savior? To save sinners, he must not be one. To pay the debt of our sin, he must have no debt of his own. He will be a Sympathetic Savior who comes to our need. Jesus emerges from this testing as the Faithful Son; the essence of his Sonship will be total obedience to the will and mission of the Father. As we linger here, we become painfully aware that we are not faithful sons and daughters; that we cave in all the time to temptation. This is why we need a Savior. But, we hear the call to be faithful sons of daughters. As we read this story about Jesus' victory, we are invited into it that victory. To learn from him how to be faithful sons and daughters who live open and responsive to the Father.

Jesus is hungry; tempted to turn stones into bread. He has the power to do so and put an end to his hunger, to end his discomfort. He has the capacity to do this; he will later feed over 5000 people with 2 fish and five small loaves of bread. The question for Jesus was, is it my Father's plan to eat bread made from stones? Or, is this discomfort, this hunger and weakness, part of the Father's plan? The temptation: Seek Comfort without regard to the will of God. I think it is interesting that this temptation is to do something seemingly innocent. He is hungry; he has the power to satisfy that hunger. But, it was not the Father's will for him to do so. It was the Spirit of God that drove him into the wilderness. The Spirit had him in this place of deprivation. It was God's will for him to accept hunger and weakness and as He prepared for his public ministry. So, though it seems like an innocent suggestion, it is not. He is being tempted to choose something that is not in the Father's heart for him. Our Temptation. At the deepest level, our greatest temptations will not be to the grossly immoral, but to this: making decisions motivated by what would create the most comfortable and convenient life for ourselves, without regard to whether or not it is in God's heart for us? Will the driving motivation of your heart be securing your own pleasure and comfort? What drives you? There is very little difference today in what motivates Jesus' followers and those who do not call themselves Jesus' followers. Get beyond outward conduct and look at inward motivation. What do you desire? Power, Possessions and Pleasures. What drives you? On what basis are you making your life decisions? Is it, "What will advance my career the most?" "Where will I make the most money?" "What path will eventually help me fulfill my version of the American dream?" "Where can I live where I will get the most house for my money?" Are these the questions that drive you? Or is it, "what is in God's heart for me?" "How do I live most faithfully to his story?" We live with the constant temptation to Seek Comfort without regard to the Will of God, or escape discomfort, to flee what might be somewhat uncomfortable for us without regard to whether or not it is in God's heart for us to flee it. Has it ever occurred to you that the Holy Spirit just might drive you to a place of lack, or risk, or cost?  Relationships: many of you will seek to escape the discomfort of loneliness by embracing a relationship that is not in line with God's heart for you. It will seem innocent: she is a nice girl, attractive, funny, intelligent - her life is not captured and shaped by the same story that captures and shapes yours and God has something more in his heart for you than just a nice girl with good lucks and the personality to match. Purity. Some of you will seek to escape the discomfort of having your life conformed to the staggering vision of Jesus' life. Martin Luther called purity and self-control in your sexuality voluntarily suffering for obedience to our Lord. The temptation is to seek pleasure outside of what's in God's heart for you. Living in the City. Some of you will find all the reasons in the world to move away after you have padded your resume. But maybe God is calling you here to help write the future chapters of the story of this city's renewal. Illus Most of you are planning to move, say your willing to stay. We need to be planning to stay, but willing to move should God clearly call us to invest our life somewhere else.  Illus: America's Promise Alliance founded by Colin Powell issued a study that compared graduation rates in nations 50 largest cities.  The large urban areas ranked low in graduation rates, and the studies revealed that the suburban areas outlying these cities reached rates at the national average. Their conclusion, "The bottom line is simple. If you have kids, the best thing you can do for them is to move to the suburbs. America's cities, especially our big cities, are not a good place to get an education." Really? Is the driving motive of our lives, "make sure my kids get the best education possible?" Maybe there is a more compelling story to live for than the small one of our own comfort and pleasure. That is what Jesus is getting at in his response. Jesus responds. Man shall not live on bread alone...Matthew continues the quote from Deut by adding, "but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." Jesus is saying, "Life cannot be sustained on food alone." We are not just physical beings, but spiritual beings created to live in a dynamic relationship to God. There is a deeper hunger than what bread can satisfy; a hunger to know God in a loving relationship, to hear his voice and to respond to Him. Jesus is talking about God communicating his heart to us, capturing our minds and awakening us to us his vision for our lives. When that is happening, the bread of comfort and pleasure have little appeal because you are being satisfied at a different level. Illus: John 4:34. Have food you know nothing of. My food is to the do the will of the Father...This is how we can overcome temptation number 1. We must be so captured by the story of God healing this broken creation through Christ and his church, and feel sent into this world with the same passion Jesus had for seeing that salvation reach broken lives, that all competing stories look so small. Up against the mission of God, the bread of comfort and pleasure and risk free living is no longer appealing.

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Sermon Speaker:

JR Vassar

Former Lead Pastor, Apostles NYC