I. He was made man.
In the Nicene Creed, we confess that we believe in God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That is to say, we do NOT confess to believe in God – “however you choose to define God.” We believe in the Triune God – three unique persons, one divine essence.
The greatest portion of the Creed is taken up with the 2nd Article – “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ…” After going to great lengths to clarify how Jesus is God – “God of God, light of light, very God of very God”, we then confess that He is fully man, saying, “He 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 something is missing. Wouldn’t it be much more natural to say, “he was made a man.” Or even, “he was made the man.”
For example, we might say, ‘Bob was made a plumber,’ or ‘Steve was made a father.” That’s perfectly natural. But to say, ‘Bob was made plumber,’ or ‘Bob was made father,’ there’s just something missing. But when it comes to Jesus, we say, ‘He was made man.’
So, even though it may sound awkward, what it says is intentional and profound. For based on all that the Scriptures say about the 2nd Person of the Trinity, we compelled to say much more about Jesus than that simply, ‘He was made ‘a’ man,’ or even ‘He was ‘a perfect’ man,’ or even ‘He was made ‘the best man’ there ever was.’ All of this true.
But when we say, “he was made man…” we are saying that at His incarnation, He became the embodiment of all mankind. “HE BECAME MAN.” “HE BECAME MANKIND.”
Which means, ‘as it goes for Jesus, so it goes for all mankind.’ Or at least that’s how the Scriptures say that God the Father sees things. In Jesus, He sees all mankind – and as it goes for Jesus so it goes for all mankind. Apart from Jesus, God sees ‘a man’ or ‘a woman’ or ‘a child’ and each one is accountable to God on his own – apart from Jesus. But for all who are ‘in Jesus,’ as we are, as it goes for Him so it goes for us.
All of this of course is just a long way of saying what we heard St. Paul say already, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the man were made righteous.” (Rom. 5:19)
II. Confrontation with the Devil
As the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, we see both ‘a man’ meeting the devil, but we also see ‘man’ meeting the devil.
In the beginning, man met the devil in a garden. In the Hebrew, “Adam” is the word for ‘humanity,’ ‘all mankind.’ (Which is not so hard to get your head around when the total population of the world consisted of a man and a woman.) So, it is just as right to say that in the garden, a man named Adam was tempted by the devil as it is to say mankind was tempted by the devil.
And just what was ‘man’ tempted to do but to deny God’s Word, which is ultimately to deny that God is truly God.
How that Adam will do against the devil’s temptation will be how it goes for all mankind. As we will sing, “all mankind fell in Adam’s fall, one common sin infects us all.’
What is important for us to understand even here is that the outcome of our life is tied to the actions of another far more than we like to think. We are not as ‘free’ as we think we are. “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the man were made righteous.”
III. The Wilderness
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”
No sooner is He baptized and the Spirit rested on Him and the voice from heaven declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” but the Holy Spirit leads Him into the desert for the purpose of being “tempted by the devil.”
If that sounds like Adam… Better yet, if that sounds like Israel, who no sooner were they ‘baptized’ in the Red Sea than they were led into the wilderness – it should. The devil tempted Israel during their 40 years in the wilderness and they failed terribly. But then again, how could they not have failed. They were of Adam and all mankind fell in Adam’s fall.
Now a new Adam, a 2nd Adam, is led by the Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days.
What is it about the ‘wilderness?’ Why did the Spirit lead Israel and now Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil? Why not a city? Cities are full of serious temptations. There’s nothing in the ‘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 caused 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.” “I wanted to be like everyone else.” “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 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.
If we could, what we would 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.’
But, it’s not 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, for me?
IV. The Temptation of Jesus – Appetite
“And the tempter came and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”
Isn’t it interesting that the devil used food to lure the Adam in the garden to fall? And now he uses food with the 2nd Adam.
This is a temptation of the flesh. We always tend to want to separate our body from our soul saying that it’s the soul that really matters. It’s what’s in my heart that really matters. What I do with my body doesn’t really matter. “After all, isn’t God the One who gave me various appetites? How can he fault me for wanting to satisfy them?”
In the garden, they let their appetite rule over them. And as it went for Adam, so for us. And all men and women have been ruled by a variety of appetites ever since.
So, how will it go for Jesus, who “was made man?” Will He let His appetite rule over God’s Word, or will He let God’s Word rule over His appetite? Will He be the One who finally says ‘no’ to the old standard of humanity which lives to satisfy its appetites only to die by them. Or will He be the One who ‘hungers and thirsts for righteousness’ and through whom a new humanity is ‘blessed’ by God?
“But He answered, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ His deepest desire is to fear, love and trust in God His Father above all things. Here is ‘man’ as ‘mankind’ was made to be.
V. The Temptation of Jesus – Testing God.
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 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 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 deliver you. His Word says so. Don’t you trust His Word?”
The way we usually say it 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 our little ‘faith experiment’ is really just a way to see if God will do what I try to tempt Him to do.
But how will it be for Jesus, ‘who was made man?’ What does it mean to be “the Son of God” – which will determine what it means when we are called ‘sons’ and ‘daughters’ of God? Does ‘Sonship’ mean ‘special privilege’ or does ‘Sonship’ mean ‘special obedience?’
“And Jesus said to him, ‘Again, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
VI. The Temptation of Jesus – Authority
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
This is the temptation of authority. In the garden, the same offer was put to Adam. “You can be like God.” “Think of all the good that you could do and the great programs and movements you could enact if you had the authority.”
But to receive authority from the devil, who has no authority except what has been given to him by God, is to be beholden to the devil in the end. ‘All these I will give you, IF you will fall down and worship me.”
In the garden, Adam took the devil’s deal. And men and women have been born, bent at the waist and the knees to the devil ever since.
But what we really want to know is, how will it go for Jesus, who “was made man?” Is He of a pure will that speaks a unqualified “YES” to God and therefore a complete “NO” to the devil? Or will He make a deal with Satan? For as it goes with Him, so it goes with us.
“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
The Lutheran pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote little book titled, “Temptation.” In the opening pages he writes, ‘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 I am bound to fall. Or the Christ in me is tempted, in which case Satan is bound to fall.”
Or as we heard St. Paul put it, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many were made righteous.”