Here is my first sermon for my preaching class. It was well received.
Feedback would be nice. Enjoy the new tinder dating app as well.!!!
Gospel Text: Matthew 3:16-4:11
It is the first day of class. We have heard various rumors or information about what the class is like and especially what the professor is like. Is the professor mean, scary or nice? How do they teach? What are their expectations? However, you do not really know until you actually meet the professor. As you begin to dialogue with the professor you get a better idea of who they are and their expectations for you.
The beginning of the Gospel of Matthew is like that first day of
class, full of expectation. We hear the story of Jesus’ birth and his
genealogy. There are a lot of expectations about who Jesus is. Has he
come as a king or a conqueror? No one really knows for sure. But there
Jesus is named and claimed as “The Son of God” at his Baptism. He is
then lead into the wilderness to be tempted. As Satan begins to tempt
and ask questions of Jesus, this is the first time Jesus speaks for
himself. The first time Jesus finds his voice and tells us, who he is.
This is where we find out if this Jesus, meets are expectations about
who God is.
Jesus is no doubt very hungry from fasting. Satan asks him “Turn these
stones into bread if you are the Son of God?” He is the Son of God so
sure we expect him to be able to do it. But NO! Jesus replies using
God’s word “Man is not fed by bread alone but by every word of God”
Jesus’ response takes this offer to satisfied physical need and defies
our expectation with the promise of something greater. He offers to
satisfy our spiritual need. The kind only God can give. Soldiers in
the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan deal with a variety of needs,
physical, emotional and spiritual.
In a recent, article about Army Chaplain Brian Kane. He notes that
there were often long lines outside the chapel with those needing
prayer, confession, and spiritual guidance. Although overwhelming, he
said, “The source of strength comes from knowing that God called me to
be a priest and that Jesus promised that he helps us to carry our
crosses and do very difficult things.”
We often settle for less. For the here and now. For the physical and
not the spiritual. However, Jesus offers us more.
Satan then asks, “If you are the Son of God, thrown yourself down for
the psalmist says God will save you.” Jesus responds with God’s word
again, “Do not test the Lord your God” The Jews were expecting a
miracle worker and magician. They wanted signs to prove who he was.
Even during his Crucifixion it is echoed. “If you are the Son of God,
Have you ever tried to bargain with God? , “God answer this prayer and
I’ll go to church more?” or “If I don’t sin for a week, God will you
bless me?” We put conditions on God. God does not want that kind of
shallow faith. He wants our obedience. He wants our trust. Trust and
faith are given, not bargained for. Trust and faith come with
relationship. Joe Kapolyo a Zambian pastor writes “We can trust God
for safety as we serve him obediently but, sometimes his will is best
fulfilled by having to undergo suffering.” When we put conditions on
God we forget about his unconditional grace. A grace so great he went
to the cross to show us an example. Not because we asked or deserved
it but because he loves us.
Satan then asks his boldest question yet “Look at all the kingdoms of
the earth. You can have power over all of these if you just worship
me.” The Jews were expecting God to save them and show his mighty hand
here on earth. We often expect our politicians to use their power as
well. To show a strong arm and make the world they way we want it.
Jesus rather forcefully tells him to get lost and with God’s word
states, “you shall only worship the Lord your God.” If you know any
history at all, you know that great leaders and empires come to power
and fall again and again. Jesus rejects the devil’s offer of earthly
power. A power that will fade and wither away. Jesus came to proclaim
the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus offers us something better than we
expected, his kingdom, his reign over heaven and earth. One that is
eternal. After all Jesus is the Son of God.
I think the hardest part of temptation is choosing whose expectations
we will follow. Will it be our peers, our own, the media or our God? When I was
younger and did something wrong, I often thought, “My Mom and Dad are
going to kill me?” I knew they were not going to actually kill me. But
I knew what they expected of me. I knew I had missed the mark. I had
let others expectations effect what I did. Jesus being God’s Son knew
his father intimately. My parents know me better than anyone else. I
want to make them happy and I want to meet their expectations because
I love them. I sometimes forget that unlike my human parents, God’s
expectations come with grace that is abundant even when I do not
This however, is not the end of the Jesus story. It is not the last we
have seen of Satan. This is still just the first day of class. The
beginning. As we get to know Jesus more, I wonder how he is going to
change our expectations yet again?