Mark 1:13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him.
On the first Sunday in Lent it is traditional to talk about temptation. We will begin with the Lord's Prayer, for in the 6th petition of the Lord's Prayer we are taught to pray- Lead us not into temptation. I don't know if you realize how important this petition is, but the world, our flesh, and the devil, are working full time to lead us into temptation. Why, because it wouldn't be temptation if it there wasn't some attraction. Our old sinful nature wants us to be lead into temptation, because temptation is exciting, adventurous, and anything but dull. Temptation is the glitter and glitz that leads people away from the true gold just so they can corner the market on fools gold. What is the true gold? Nothing less than the life and salvation that have come to us in the forgiveness of sins which is ours in Jesus Christ. What is the fools gold?
Well, what about the temptations that come under the first 3 petitions of the Lord's Prayer:
Hallowed be my name.
My Kingdom come.
My will be done.
It is clear that there is one thing at work here, and like most temptations to sin, it begins in the first commandment, for we want to take what is God's for ourselves. So the first temptation might be said to be the desire for fame. Is this a powerful temptation? Yes, it is what is behind most of the so called "reality shows" on TV. You have seen that people will do just about anything to get noticed, just about anything to be recognized, and just about anything so that people will think well of them. We live in a strange time, for it seems the whole world watches the cult of celebrity, and its not like they have to do anything productive, we watch them do wicked and outrageous things, all so their name can be in the news, so that people will pay attention to them, and they won't be forgotten. So we pray lead us NOT into temptation.
If you don't want fame, there is always fortune - the second temptation is about a kingdom, not God's kingdom, but my kingdom - here is what I want, and if I only had the money I could buy it all - this is why people play the lottery, or gamble - because they think that their life is somehow lacking because they don't have everything they can imagine. Who wants to be a millionaire? Not I, not if it leads me away from God, or forget all his gifts. Many people find it hard to understand that one of the greatest virtues in the world, is to be content with what you have. So we pray lead us NOT into temptation.
If you don't want fame, or fortune, there is always power - so the third of the temptations is about getting what we want, and getting it now - My will be done! At its worst, this leads people to want to rule the world - sadly, many people try to comfort themselves, saying, I'm not like Hitler, all I want to rule over is my brother, or spouse, or children, or parents - sometimes we don't even think of it as ruling - we just want people to do what we want - and perhaps the most subtle form of this temptation, is when we think we can give advise to God on how he should do things. So we pray lead us NOT into temptation.
Regardless of how temptation comes, or what the attraction, here's the one thing we need to know - Jesus was tempted just like we are, tempted in every way, so Jesus understands the troubles we see. But Jesus didn't give in to temptation, Jesus was tempted but he sinned not. And so when we hear that Jesus has won the victory, when we hear that Jesus has purchased and won for us a full and complete salvation - then we need to know that Jesus has also given us the power so that we can overcome the temptation we face in our life.
What do we hear from Jesus, Now is the time, the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, repent and believe the gospel - what is the gospel? That in Jesus our sins are forgiven, we are given life and salvation, and the power to turn from temptation, and return to doing God's will.