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I. He was made man.
In the Nicene Creed which we just confessed together, there is this very interesting phrase in the 2nd Article which speaks about the 2nd Person of the Trinity, where we say of the Son, “who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary and was made man.” There is something unusual about the last part of that phrase, “and was made man.’ It’s as though there is an indefinite article missing. Wouldn’t it be more grammatically correct to say, “he was made a man,” which is just what we celebrate at Christmas. God became a man.
For example, it would be perfectly normal for us to say, ‘Bob became a plumber’, or ‘Bob became a father.’ But we would never say, ‘Bob became plumber,’ or ‘Bob became father.’ That just doesn’t work. But when it comes to Jesus, we say, ‘Jesus became man.’
It would certainly work if we were to put a ‘definite’ article there. “and was made THE man.” That works. And in some cases, that’s exactly what we want to say. When Pontius Pilate points to Jesus who had just been flogged, he says, “behold, THE man.”
But that’s not what we say in the Creed. We say, “He became man.” Even though it may not be the best grammar in the world, what this means is that Jesus is somehow the embodiment of all mankind. As goes Jesus, so goes mankind, humanity, the whole human race along with him.
II. Confrontation with the Devil
And so it is that the devil meets ‘man’ in the wilderness.
In the beginning, the devil met man in a garden. And the devil did what the devil always does whenever he meets “man.” He tempts him to deny God’s Word which is ultimately to deny God.
In the garden, the devil tempted a man, an individual person. But Adam was not just a man. He was also all mankind. As it goes with Adam, so it goes with all mankind. When Adam was tempted by the devil, HE FELL and ALL MANKIND FELL with him and in him and through him.
Now, this morning, we meet another man. He is “a” man like Adam. But He is not just ‘a’ man. He is also all mankind. As it goes with this ‘man,’ so it goes for all mankind, humanity, the whole human race.
The Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote little book titled, “Temptation.” In the beginning, he makes this very interesting observation. He says, ‘The Bible tells only two temptation stories, the temptation of the first man and the temptation of Christ; that is, the temptation which led to man’s fall, and the temptation which led to Satan’s fall. All other temptations in human history have to do with these two stories of temptation. Either the Adam in me is tempted, in which case we are bound to fall. Or the Christ in me is tempted, in which case Satan is bound to fall.”
What’s interesting here is how the outcome of our individual life is tied to the actions of another who acts on behalf of all mankind, humanity, the whole human race. “And He was made man.”
III. The Wilderness
“And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days being tempted by the devil.”
He was “led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days…” If that reminds you of Israel, who was led in the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, that’s good. It should. The devil tempted Israel during their 40 year time in the wilderness and they failed terribly. But then again, how could they not have failed. They were of Adam and the Adam in them was tempted and therefore they were bound to fall.
What is it though about the ‘wilderness?’ Why did the Spirit lead Israel and now Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil? Why not a city? Cities are full of serious temptations.
There’s nothing in the ‘wilderness.’ That’s why it’s called “wilderness.”
What is it that we do whenever we think about that temptation that drove us over the edge? Don’t we try to identify the temptations that us to fall? “I got in with the wrong crowd at school.” “I got hooked on the internet.” “The money was too much to refuse.” “He changed. He’s no longer the person I married.” “The woman, you gave to me, she gave me fruit of the tree and I ate.”
All of these are what are called, “outside influences.” It’s ‘the world we live in.’ ‘It’s the government.’ ‘It’s my parents.’ ‘It’s the educational system.’ The list is endless.
Okay. So let’s take all of that away. Let’s eliminate all of the ‘outside influences.’ Let’s go into the ‘wilderness,’ where there are no ‘outside influences,’ and let’s see how we do.
I think what we will discover about ourselves is that the real problem is not those ‘outside influences’ at all. In the wilderness, our true ‘motives’ are exposed because there are no ‘outside influences.’
Was it really the fruit in the outstretched hand of his wife that caused Adam to eat what God said, ‘You shall not eat?’ No, not at all. Adam had already made up his mind about God. He had already made his decision to deny God and reject God’s Word. Otherwise, he would have stepped in front of his wife and told the devil, “OVER MY DEAD BODY.”
It wasn’t the gold calf that sprung up out of the fire, as Aaron actually described it to Moses, that tempted Israel to worship a false god. They had already made their mind up about God long before they removed their jewelry and cast them into the fire.
When the rich, young man came to Jesus with his great question, ‘what must I do to be saved?’ Jesus replied, ‘sell all that you have and give it to the poor.’ Was it the man’s money that caused him to fall? No. He had already made up his mind about Jesus. Jesus simply exposed his TRUE MOTIVES and desires.
Isn’t this just the point that James makes when he writes, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13ff).
Well, enough of that. It’s not really us that we’re interested in here. We know who we are and where are real problem lies. It’s Jesus, who was ‘made man’ that we’re interested in.
How will it go for Him and through Him, for all mankind, all humanity?
IV. The Temptation of Jesus – Appetite
“And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”
“If you are the Son of God?” Interesting question. How are we to understand it?
It could mean that since Jesus was coming directly from the Jordan River where He was baptized and the Father had just spoken to Him saying, “You are my Son,” the devil wanted to create a bit of doubt. “Did God actually say…” “You are my Son?”
Or, it could be that since God really did say, “You are my Son,” “and yes, You really are the Son of God, would God really want His Son to go hungry? As the Son of God, You have the power to turn this rock into bread. Wouldn’t Your Father want you do use the abilities and resources He has given you to satisfy Your hunger?”
Isn’t it interesting that the devil used food to lure the first Adam to fall. And now he uses food with the 2nd Adam.
This is a temptation of the flesh, of the physical body. We tend to want to separate our body from our soul and say that it’s the soul that really matters, what’s in my heart. Ignore what I do with my body. “After all, isn’t God the One who gave me certain appetites? Surely He wants me to satisfy them.” But there are godly and ungodly ways to satisfy our god-given appetites.
In the garden, they let their appetite rule over them. And men and women have been ruled by a variety of physical appetites ever since. And the fall of the body has caused the fall of the soul.
So, how will it go for Jesus, who “was made man?” It wasn’t just His own hunger that growled in Him. It was the hunger of all mankind.
“And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’ His deepest desire is to fear, love and trust in God His Father above all things. The motive that moves Him to do what He does is to be ‘man’ as mankind should be before God. He is the “new man,” and all mankind in Him and with Him and through Him.
V. The Temptation of Jesus – Success
“And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, ‘to you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I will give it to whom I will.”
This is the temptation of power and authority. In the garden, the same temptation was put to Adam. “You can be like God.” “Think of all the good that you could do and the great reforms you could enact if you had the authority.” “You could turn the whole world to Jesus. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”
But to receive authority and power from the devil, who has no authority or power to give except what he has been given by God, is to be beholden to the devil in the end. “If you, then will worship me, it will all be yours.”
In the garden, Adam took the devil’s deal. And men and women have been born, bent at the waist to the devil ever since.
So, how will it go for Jesus, who “was made man?” He will announce for all to hear, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me….” But from whence does He receive it?
“And Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” His deepest desire is to fear, love and trust in God His Father above all things. The motive that moves Him to do what He does is to be ‘man’ as mankind should be before God. He is the “new man,’ and all mankind, in Him, with Him and through Him.
VI. The Temptation of Jesus – Testing God.
“And [the devil] took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
This is the temptation to test God.
Once again, just as in the first, the question, “if you are the Son of God…” “Not doubting that you are, but since you are, surely God will rescue you and keep you from stumbling. His Word says so. Don’t you trust His Word?”
The way we usually say much the same thing goes something like this, “Just do it. Don’t worry. If you trust in God everything will turn out okay.” Never actually stopping to consider if what we are about to do is something that God has actually told us to do. Or that it is really we who are telling God what we expect Him to do no matter how foolish or faithless we behave?
In the garden, the first Adam put himself above God’s Word rather than under it. And all mankind has been doing the same ever since.
But how will it go for Jesus, ‘who was made man?’ Will He put Himself above God’s Word or submit to it? Will He expect that His Father will deliver Him from all harm and danger, even death on a cross? Or will He say, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
“And Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Here, in the wilderness, the devil meets man. As it goes for the Man, so it goes for all mankind, all humanity. In the desert, where there is nothing to block our vision or distract us, we see His true motive and desire.
Thanks be to God that this Man, as we say in the Nicene Creed, “who for us men and for our SALVATION,” stood up to the devil on behalf of His bride and said, “over my dead body.”