Sermons 2008
Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008

Home | Light and Love, Christmas 1B , 28 December 2008, John 1:1-18 | The light and the darkness, Christmas Day, 25 December 2008, John 1:1-14 | What would you see? Christmas Eve, 24 December 2008, Luke 2:1-20 | What did you say? Advent 3B, 14 December 2008, John 1:6-8. 19-28 | A refining fire, Advent 2B, 7 Dec 2008, Mark 1:1-8 | Alert, alert! Advent 1B, 30 November 2008, Mark 13:24-37 | Where will we stand: sheep or goats? Proper 29A 2008, 23 November 2008, Matthew 25: 31-46 | The talents to...? Proper 28A, 16 November 2008, Matthew 25:14-30 | Choose this day, Proper 27A, 9 November 2008, Joshua 24:14-25; Matthew 25:1-13 | All Saints A, 2 November 2008, Matthew 5:1-12; 23:1-12 | Holy or not? Proper 25A, 26 October 2008, Matthew 22:34-46 | Things: God's or Caesar's? Proper 24A, 19 October 2008, Matthew 22:15-22 | The wedding and the allegory, Proper 23A, 12 October 2008, Matthew 22:1-14 | The vineyard and the rock, Proper 22A. 5 October 2008, Matthew 21:33-46 | Deference and disobedience, Proper 21A, 28 September 2008, Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 21:23-32 | Be content, Proper 20A , 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Only one true church? Proper 18A, 7 September 1008, Matthew 18:15-20 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 22:1-16 | Be content! Proper 20A, 21 September 2008, Matthew 20:1-16 | Holy Name and Holy Ground, Proper 17A, Exodus 3:1-15; Matthew 16:21-28 | What's in a name? Proper 16A, 24 August 2008, Matthew 16:13-20 | Dogs? Proper 15A, 17 August 2008, Matthew 15:10-28 | Time to get out of the boat, Proper 14A, 10 August 2008, Matthew 14:22-33 | Who, me? Proper 13A, 3 August 2008, Matthew 14:13-21 | LIKE what? Proper 12A, 27 July 2008, Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 | Good seed, bad seed, Proper 11A , 20 July 2008, Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 | Watch the Farmer, Proper 10A, 13 July 2009, Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 | Easy Yoke? Proper 9A 2008, 6 July 2008, Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 | Baptism of David William and Anne Tyler, Proper 8A, 29 June 2008 | The Twelve or the Dirty Dozen? Proper 6A, 15 June 2008, Matthew 9:35-10:15 | Jesus likes sinners?, Proper 5A, 8 June 2008, Matthew 9:9-13 | Lawlessness or not? Pentecost 3A, Proper 4A, 1 June 2008, Matthew 7:21-29 | What do you mean, if? Easter 6A, 27 April 2008, John 14:15-21 | Comforting words and St Thomas, Easter 5A, 20 April 2008, John 14:1-14 | Ordinary good shepherds, Easter 4A 2008, 13 April 2008, John 10:1-10 | Light for clarity, Easter 3A, 6 April 2008, Luke 24:13-35 | "Blessed are those who....", Easter 2A, 30 March 2008, John 20:19-31 | Hallelujah! He's alive! Easter Sunday A, 23 March 2008, John 20:1-18 | He had it all, Palm Sunday A, 16 March 2008, Matthew 26:14-27:54 | Lazarus: Waiting for Jesus, Lent 5A, 9 March 2008, John 11:1-45 | Miracles Physical and Spiritual, Lent 4A, 2 March 2008, John 9:1-41 | Living Water, Lent 3A, 24 February 2008, John 4:5-42 | God's unselfish love, Lent 2A, 17 February 2008, John 3:1-17 | Temptation, Lent 1A, 10 February 2008 | Ash Wednesday, 6 February 2008, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | They heard the Lord call, Epiphany 3A, 20 Jan 2008, Matthew 4:12-23 | Come and See! Epiphany 2A, 20 January 2008, John 1: 29-42 | Remember Your Baptism? Epiphany 1A, 13 January 2008, Matthew 3:13-17 | We Three Kings, The Epiphany, 6 January 2008, Matthew 2:1-12

Lent 1A 2008 Matthew 4:1-11

A story about temptation: A salesman had finally got his chance to make the Really Big Sale. He was going into the final interview on the biggest contract he had ever written. As he was ushered into the office of the executive buyer, the atmosphere was cordial, and he knew he was giving his best presentation ever.

Then the assistant tapped on the door, re-entered the office and spoke briefly with the executive, who stood and said, "I apologize, but I have to tend to a matter. I'll just be a minute or two." And she left the room.

The sales representative looked around the beautifully appointed office and noticed a contract on her desk. It was a bid from a competitor. But the numbers were obscured by a diet soda can.

He was tempted to move the can and see the bottom line of his competitor's bid. What harm possibly could there be? After all, it was out in plain sight -- almost. After resisting a while, he finally decided to look.

When he lifted the soda can, he discovered that the can was a bottomless can filled with 1,000 BBs which gushed out, and ran all over the desk and onto the carpet.

Not every temptation is so obvious. Not every failure is so embarrassing. But every temptation is a challenge. Not even Jesus was spared the choosing. (1)

For Jesus, temptation meant flirting with more than the illusions of grandeur of the really big sale. The problem was humble service, not awesome political dominance.

While in the Judean wilderness with little to do and nothing to eat, the devil tempted him: You can make food for yourself, you can command the angels to save you, you can control everything – just obey me and you can have it all.
Jesus could have out-trumped The Donald, out-monopolized Bill Gates, crushed the power of the world’s most sophisticated armies, richest treasuries and smartest think tanks. But instead, “Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”

Jesus’ experience in the wilderness reminds us of the importance of being tethered to God - the one who ultimately feeds us, protects us, owns us. The one in whose service is perfect freedom.

For Jesus, temptation meant one thing: not to deny his baptism. And never to forget that he was a child of God. “Remember that we love you,” said the parents to their college freshman. “And remember that you are baptized.”

Almost 20 years ago, Martin Scorsese directed a film entitled “The Last Temptation of Christ”. It caused a great stir in parts of the Christian community. The film depicted the tempter as appearing to be a guardian angel who was with Jesus every day of his life from the wilderness to the Cross – and who tempted him on the Cross to leave it.

Perhaps our temptation is to fill every minute for fear that empty moments will find us to face something we’d rather not. Or to stay busy every waking moment for fear of suffering a little boredom. Perhaps our temptation is, or has been, to work night and day to prove we are worth having around, terrified that somebody will not value us if we stop even for a moment.

There’s a Zen story about a martial arts student went to his teacher and said earnestly, “I am devoted to studying your martial system. How long will it take me to master it?”

The teacher’s reply was casual, “Ten years.” Impatiently, the student answered, “But I want to master it faster than that. I will work very hard. I will practice every day, 10 or more hours a day if I have to. How long will it take then?”

The teacher thought for a moment, “Twenty years.”

Perhaps our temptation involves clinging to keep control of every detail of our lives and of the lives of others. And perhaps we succumb to the temptation of allowing the technology that keeps us in touch with each other winding up controlling us and keeping us out of touch with what and --especially who -- is really important.


1. Mickey Anders, Six Flags over Jesus, eSermons Illustrations for Lent 1A 2008