The Testing of the King
Good morning, Gateway Chapel!
If we haven’t met before...
Something about Psalm 100?
When I say the word, “Test” what feelings do you have?
Good ones? Bad ones?
How many of you have a recurring nightmare of forgetting to study for a test when in fact you haven’t been in school in a decade?
Test anxiety is a real thing. I’ve said the word three times and some of you are like, ‘Is it hot in here?’
And yet, tests are important.
Did you or did you not pass a driver’s test to get behind the wheel?
Would you want to ride with someone who just managed to not have to take that test?
We have a lot of nurses in our congregation.
The NCLEX is a mountain of a test.
Morgan took it and called me afterwards in tears because the nature of the test is you can either pass it really fast or flunk it. Of course, she passed it.
But, should we say, “Well, I don’t want nurses to be stressed. So let’s just have them study and then get a job and just start enjoying employment.”
Would you want your life in the hands of a nurse who wasn’t tested?
If you had a family business, and you wanted to hand it off to your firstborn child.
Would you not first give them a job sweeping the floor to test them and make sure they were able to have a good work ethic?
Tests are a good and normal part of being human. And yet, they really are intimidating. Why? Because we can fail!
Tests are a key theme in Scripture.
The Bible begins with a test. God makes humans on page 1 to rule with him and gives them a test. He gives them all they can eat and also says, “Hey that tree over there, if you eat from it, it won’t go well for you. Trust me.”
And so the first test comes down to this question for God’s children…do you trust me?
And what happens? They fail the test. They do not trust God and they listen to the snake.
And so from that failure, sin - not trusting God - ravages the universe.
This is different than the test our culture sees in life…will you or will you not trust yourself?
Do you trust yourself to follow your heart, pursue your deepest desires, and be true to yourself?
The Bible says no, the true test is whether or not we are true to God who knows what is best.
But God, being patient, promises to one day send another son of God who will not listen to the snake but trust him and restore his sin-ravaged world.
And as we arrive in the book of Matthew, Matthew says, Jesus is the one! He’s the King. The promised son of God.
And if that is so, he must pass the test. And today we’re in Matthew 4:1-11, an amazing passage. It’s the testing of the King. As we walk through Matt. 4:1-11 we’ll go through three rounds of a battle between Jesus and the devil. And it all comes down to this question to Jesus…do you trust God?
We are preaching through the gospel of Matthew in 2023, and we are seeing how it’s all about how Jesus is the King, the most important person in the world.
“When we see Jesus as he is, we must turn away or else shamelessly adore him.” - Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy, 19
As we read Matthew, we are faced with those choices. Either, turn away, just do something else with your life, or follow him with the deepest part of your heart and soul
And so the way Matthew argues this is through three parts to his book.
Show image and explain...
Matthew 4:1 (NASB95)
Pause right there...
What just happened?
In Matthew 3, Jesus was baptized. He’s beginning his mission to save sinners and as he comes out of the water he has this amazing experience.
16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”
It can only go up from here, right?
What happens next?...
1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
Have you ever had an amazing spiritual experience…
whether it was at a camp, a conference, maybe a weekend with your spouse, a worship service, you were like, “Man, God is here!” And had it followed by a major life circumstance.
The Bible points to this as a reality of being human. We go from mountain top experiences to testing in the wilderness.
The word tempted is the same word for tested.
1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.
Why does Jesus need to be tested?
Has he done something wrong?
Has God left him?
Is God unsure about his character?
I think Jesus is tempted for us.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Jesus gets it. Jesus wants to help.
Who does the testing? God does not tempt Jesus.
In the same way Job was tempted which was allowed by God, Jesus is tested by the devil.
Who is the devil?
image of red horns
Quite simply, he’s the spiritual being who hates God (Matt. 13:39)
We’ll learn about him in this passage...
Tempts God’s children to sin
Questions Jesus’ identity
Comes at moment of weakness
Offers comfort and ease of pain
Has some power over Jesus’ body
Knows his Bible really well
He’s known by three different names, the tempter, the devil, Satan - the slanderer or accuser, and later in Matthew as the evil one.
We learn later in Matthew that
His destiny is the fiery furnace and eternal fire (Matt. 13:39-43; 25:41) and will be tormented by God (Matt 8:29).
We already met one enemy of God, King Herod, in Matthew 2, but this enemy is the real bad guy.
2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
Intermittent fasting is all the rage these days.
Jesus is not intermittent fasting to lose a few pounds.
In fact he probably 20-40 pounds in the process.
According to Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, between 21 and 40 days hunger pains are particularly strong because your body starts to eat at it’s own tissue and the fast should be stopped at that point.
Why is Jesus fasting? Why be so weak getting ready to dance with the devil?
Is Jesus weak? Physically, sure.
Charles Spurgeon said
“Our seasons of fasting and prayer at the Tabernacle have been high days indeed; never has Heaven’s gate stood wider; never have our hearts been nearer the central glory.” - Charles Spurgeon
Like Moses went on the mountain and fasted forty days and forty nights to be with God, Jesus is preparing for a fight by letting go of everything except trust in God.
3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
In the words of Michael Buffer, let’s get ready to rumble.
Two things to notice...
One - name change for the devil…now he’s the tempter or the tester.
Two - he’s unwise and very smart at the same time. He’s unwise because he’s gonna rumble with Jesus when he’s at his spiritual best. But he’s smart because he comes when Jesus is hungry and vulnerable.
Is it wrong for Jesus to turn stones to bread?
“Thou shalt not perform magic in the wilderness.”
What’s the test? Jesus, if you’re God’s son, take care of yourself, don’t trust God to provide. Why are you letting yourself go hungry?
When else have we heard a deceptive creature testing a child of God about food?
Adam and Eve. Is it wrong to eat fruit? No, but God said, “Trust me, don’t eat this one.”
And Satan says, “Why trust God, he’s just holding out on you!”
Again, think of how hard this test is. Jesus loves food. He’s always eating and drinking. He’s really hungry!
Have you heard of the acronym HABIT before?
Say you’re battling pornography, trying not to overeat, or trying to control your spending, we are most likely to revert back to harmful habits when we are...
Can anyone relate?
Would you blame Jesus if he caved here?
What does Jesus do?
4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.’ ”
Jesus pulls out his Bible app, scrolls for a bit, subscribes to a Bible plan, reads a few devotionals and finds one that fits!
No, he’s just got this deep in his brain.
What does he quote?
Deuteronomy 8. Turn there with me.
What is Deuteronomy? It’s a series of sermons by Moses. Is Jesus like Moses. A lot like Moses. And it’s when God’s children were in the wilderness, about to go into the Promised Land. And Moses repeatedly says, “Trust God! Don’t listen to lies. Trust him and it will go well with you.” And what happens, they don’t.
But let’s read this in context.
1 “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. 2 “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3 “He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. 4 “Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5 “Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son.
Adam, Eve, the Israelites, even Moses, failed the test to trust God to provide.
And Jesus relies on God’s word to trust his heavenly Father.
Around Christmas time I tried reading the Bible in 30 days…and guess what. I didn’t do it. Cuz that’s nuts!
But even in my failure I read quite a bit and what I found was during some stressful points of the holidays I was more hopeful. Not because I just knew things would work out, but I was soaking in stories of God’s grace and compassion.
When Jesus was tested he relied on God’s word, not because it reminded him that Satan is bad or rules kept him from disobeying…but because the Bible is a story about how good it is to trust God.
Jesus crushes round 1. Does Satan give up?
5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will command His angels concerning You’; and ‘On their hands they will bear You up, So that You will not strike Your foot against a stone.’ ”
Matthew wants us to sense that the battle is intensifying.
Jesus has just said no to a loaf of Brioche bread when his stomach is literally eating itself.
Matthew uses present tense verbs so it literally reads...
“The devil takes him…and says to him...”
You ever read a book in the present tense? American Dirt highly recommend it. You’ll read it in 5 hours. Why? It’s in present tense and you’re leaning in.
So we’re leaning in. Will Jesus pass the test?
What does Satan do differently?
He quotes Scripture.
What does he quote?
11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, That you do not strike your foot against a stone.
Again, he’s very smart - using God’s word for his own purposes…but he’s unwise. Why?
What does he leave out?
13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
Knowing Scripture helps us when we’re tested because it reminds us to trust God AND it helps us read it in context especially when Satan tries to use God’s word out of context.
Will Jesus die if he jumps?
In a sense, yes, he’s really high up in the air. But also, Of course not. God purposed Jesus to die on the cross so if he jumps, God would save him.
So Satan is trying to force Jesus’ hand.
If you really are the Son of God, why live by trust in an invisible God when you can TEST this out right now!
If you have any doubts about your faith, that must mean God isn’t real! Why would he want you to trust him?
Again, we failed this test in the Garden.
In Genesis 3, Satan knew God’s words. You won’t surely die Satan says. He quotes God better than Eve.
But the difference is Satan tries to say that God’s word isn’t trustworthy. God does not have your best interest in mind, therefore you should take the initiative.
What does Jesus do?
7 Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
Same book…Deuteronomy! Chapter 6.
16 “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.
What happened at Massah?
1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
Adam, Eve, Israel fail the test. They saw God take care of them and prove his love for them, but they didn’t trust him.
And so Jesus, reflecting on the story of Scripture says, “I remember just a few weeks ago God said to me, ‘This is my Beloved Son.’ And I trust him. I could prove his love right now, but I trust him.
Jesus 2, Satan 0. But Satan is not so easily defeated.
8 Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
I know you guys are Christians so you’ve never seen the Godfather…but the famous line is, “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.
This is the hardest test.
Isn’t this what Jesus should want?
At the end of Matthew 28 Jesus will say, all authority on heaven and earth has been given to me!
So Satan say, you know what, I know that you’re gonna be there anyway, so let’s just skip the messy stuff and make you King!
Jesus had a way to be king of the world without having to die.
Similarly, there is a path for us to have an amazing life with less pain.
Hey, I know you’re anxious, why wait to grow as a person of peace over a lifetime when you can just take this, eat this, watch this, do this, and poof, you’ll feel better! I know you need to have a hard conversation with your friend but that would just be uncomfortable why don’t you just make new friends. I know you want to grow in faith, so just read books and listen to sermons why go to church and deal with all those annoying people?
The only problem is, it actually leads to death.
We failed this in the Garden.
Satan said you will be LIKE God.
Which is exactly what God wants for Adam and Eve because he made them in his image! But Satan says, yeah but God takes too long. Just take it for yourself now!
I think one of the great tests today is Satan tells us that what God wants from you is to do better.
God just needs you to try a little harder.
Don’t pray right now because he knows what you did, what you thought, what you want to do, and he’s just kind of grossed out by you. He’s mad at you. So let’s get you straightened out and THEN maybe you can talk to God.
Now, does God want us to sin? Of course not. He wants us to live godly lives.
But the way we do that is by trusting him not trying harder.
Satan says, “Jesus I know where you going, let’s just get there my way which is way faster and easier!”
What does Jesus do?
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ”
What does Jesus call the devil?
When Peter say, “Jesus you don’t have to die!”
What does Jesus say? Get behind me, Satan!
For the third time, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy.
10 “Then it shall come about when the Lord your God brings you into the land which He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you, great and splendid cities which you did not build, 11 and houses full of all good things which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and you eat and are satisfied, 12 then watch yourself, that you do not forget the Lord who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 13 “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name.
We failed this test, Adam and Eve failed this test, the Israelites failed this test.
But Jesus meditates on Scripture and says, “God knows what is best for me and gives me good gifts. And so I’m going to trust that even though I will need to pick up the cross, I’m going to trust him and not you.”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
Jesus passes the test.
It says in Luke’s account of this story...
13 When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.
The devil is persistent.
Jesus is tested by the Pharisees throughout his ministry.
Jesus is tested by his own disciples…Jesus you don’t have to die!
Jesus gets his final test in the Garden on the night he was betrayed. He prays three times for the test to leave, but trusts God and obeys.
And so on that Good Friday, Jesus is taken by the devil up another mountain, the proudest mountain in the history of the world.
And even there his test is not over, people said...
39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
But Jesus, because he trusted God, because he knew the story of Scripture because he was filled with the Spirit and because he loved you…he died. He passed the test.
And because he passed the test God vindicated him and raised him from the dead and gave him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory belongs to him!
There was a girl in high school who started a Bible study in the cafeteria. And she invited me and I said I would come. And so one morning she sat there in the corner of the cafeteria ready to go, and she was alone. And I saw her, and I realized that if I went to be with her I’d be alone too. So I paused and I walked away and didn’t go.
And I remember going to summer camp that year, and we were sitting around in a circle talking about the message, and I don’t remember what the topic was but I remember saying, “This year I’m going to prove myself to God.” I failed the test but I’m going to muscle up and do better next time.
Have you felt that way before?
You’re in a moment where you need to step up…be there for your kids, be the person your employees need you to be, be a good listener for your spouse, be faithful in a role at church…and you fail.
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to prove yourself to God.
Jesus passed the test.
And now, the good news of Christianity is if we trust Jesus, then we get his passing grade because he trusted God when we never could.
And now, even when we are led by the Spirit to be tested, we have Jesus with us to help. And he never fails.
Get to know you
Women’s conference 3/3-4
Membership class 4/23
19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.