The Temptation | Matthew 4:1-11
Brian Hedges | January 21, 2024
Turn in your Bibles to Matthew 4. We’re going to be reading from Matthew 4:1-11.
Several weeks ago I saw again the great film The Fellowship of the Ring. That was what our family did on New Year’s evening. There’s a scene in that film, if you’re familiar with it, where at the end of the film you have two different characters who are both tempted to do something that would be evil. They’re tempted to take this evil ring of power for themselves.
One of the men is named Boromir, and he attempts to take the ring and kind of betrays this fellowship, this band of people together. He’s unsuccessful and eventually loses his life, dies in the process of trying to defend others.
The other man is Aragorn. He’s also given an opportunity where he could take the ring for himself, but he resists the temptation, and instead he fights valiantly to protect the bearer of the ring.
It’s a story of the temptation of two different people, Boromir versus Aragorn. Aragorn faces the same evil that Boromir faces, but he defeats that evil.
Almost at the end of the film, Boromir is dying and Aragorn is there over him, and Aragorn is swearing to Boromir that he is going to defend their people, that he’s not going to let the White City of Gondor fall. Boromir has now repented, he’s really confessed his sin and sought forgiveness. Then in his final words he says to Aragorn, “I would have followed you, my brother, my captain, my king.”
That has to be one of my favorite scenes in all movies of all time. I want to use that this morning as we think about temptation.
We’re looking today at the temptation of Jesus, the story of Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4. I think when we think about temptation in our own lives, oftentimes we’re more like Boromir than we are Aragorn. We sometimes succumb to temptation, we fail in temptation. Then we confess and repent.
What I want us to see this morning is that we have a brother, a captain, and a king who has faced the same evil that we face, and he has defeated that evil. This morning we’re going to see how he defeated that evil and we’re going to learn some lessons about temptation for our own lives.
Matthew 4:1-11—we’re nearing the end of this series on the “Advent of the King” in these first four chapters of Matthew; just two more weeks after today. Let’s read the text, Matthew 4, beginning in verse 1.
“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. And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written,
“Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of 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,”
“On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.”’
“Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ 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.’ 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.”’
“Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
This is God’s word.
I want us to see three things this morning:
1. Jesus’ Sympathy as Our Brother
2. Jesus’ Example as Our Captain
3. Jesus’ Triumph as Our King
I think each one of these aspects of Jesus’ work and Jesus’ experience in his temptation has something important to teach us.
1. Jesus’ Sympathy as Our Brother
First of all, we see Jesus’ sympathy as our brother. It’s important for us to just note a couple of things about the temptations of Jesus.
(1) First of all, the setting of his temptations. Notice in verse 1 that Jesus was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
We have to have the right picture in our mind when we think of the wilderness. Most of the time when we hear the word “wilderness” we’re thinking about Yellowstone, right, or we’re thinking about a cabin in the mountains that’s by a wonderful brook. We’re thinking of a retreat; we’re thinking of something that’s a vacation for us.
That’s not at all the image that we should have in our minds. The wilderness here is not a cabin in the woods; this is a barren wasteland. This is the waste howling wilderness of the Judean desert. It was the haunt of serpents and of scorpions. The book of Isaiah considered it the haunt of demons. Jesus here is going to a desolate place where he will be tempted. He’s really going into enemy-occupied territory.
The wilderness in Scripture has great significance. The wilderness was the place of training for Moses in Exodus 3, but it was also the place of testing and then of failure for the nation of Israel. Like Israel being tested in the wilderness for forty years, now Jesus willingly goes, under the direction and guidance of the Spirit of God, straight into the wilderness, where he will be tested for forty days and for forty nights.
(2) We also need to consider the scope of his temptations; not just the setting, but the scope. I want you to note here how comprehensive these temptations were. We have three examples, three vignettes of Jesus being tempted, but when you look at them together it encompasses the whole range of human experience.
He’s tempted in regard to his dependence upon God to meet his physical needs. He’s tempted in the area of bodily appetite and desire. He’s tempted regarding his sense of vocation and purpose and ambition, the very purpose for which he came into the world. He’s tempted in relationship to his worship and what holds sway in his heart as the highest value.
In all these different ways, Jesus is being tempted in regards to his basic vocation as the servant of the Lord. He had been given this mission; the mission was to come and not to be served but to be the servant, to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. His mission was stated in the words of the Father, taken in part from Isaiah 42, one of the “servant songs” of Isaiah, when Jesus was baptized and the Father said, “You are my Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He is the servant of the Lord in whom the Lord delights.
We know the story of the servant in Isaiah. The servant in Isaiah was to be a suffering servant, one who would give his life for others. This was Jesus’ vocation, and it was exactly this that the enemy, Satan, was trying to pull Jesus away from.
In the course of this, he experienced the whole scope of human temptation, human experience, and that’s why the book of Hebrews tells us that “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God.” We are therefore to hold fast our confession. Here’s the reason, Hebrews 4:15-16:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
The sympathy of Jesus as the one who is tempted as we have been tempted, Jesus our brother and Jesus our priest.
This should give us both comfort and confidence—comfort as we remember that Jesus understands.
You know, experience always deepens compassion and sympathy. I’ve been a pastor for a long time now, well over twenty years, and in my early years as a pastor, when people went through seasons of grief I of course tried to be as kind and sympathetic as possible, tried to minister to them at the funeral home, minister to them in the funeral or memorial service, try to provide as much comfort as possible.
But something happened in my life in 2020, where in the space of just a few months I lost three family members who were very dear to me: my grandfather, my mom, and my mother-in-law. I experienced a profound kind of grief that I’d never experienced before.
You know, one of the things that happened in my life is my capacity for actually understanding what you’re going through when you lose a family member, that capacity changed! Now I relate and understand and sympathize at a much deeper level with your sense of grief when you lose someone that you love.
But you see, Jesus understands the full depth of human experience, because he’s been tempted, he’s been tested in every point as we are, yet without sin.
I love these words from the nineteenth-century bishop J.C. Ryle. He had wonderful expository thoughts on the Gospels; this is great devotional reading. Listen to what he says about the sympathy of Jesus. He says,
“The sympathy of Jesus is a truth which ought to be peculiarly dear to all believers. They will find it a mine of strong consolation. They should never forget that they have a mighty friend in heaven who feels for them in all their temptations and can enter into all their spiritual anxieties. Are they ever tempted by Satan to distrust God’s care and goodness? So was Jesus. Are they ever tempted to presume on God’s mercy and run into danger without warrant? So also was Jesus. Are they ever tempted to commit some one great private sin for the sake of some great seeming advantage? So also was Jesus. Are they ever tempted to listen to some misapplication of Scripture as an excuse for doing wrong? So also was Jesus. He is just the Savior that a tempted people require. Let them flee to him for help and spread before him all their troubles. They will find his ear ready to hear and his heart ever ready to feel. He can understand their sorrows.”
The sympathy of Jesus, our brother, who faced the same temptations we feel. This should give you comfort in your temptation and it should give you confidence that you can come to the throne of grace in prayer and God will give you the help you need in your time of need. Jesus faced temptation as our brother.
2. Jesus’ Example as Our Captain
Not only that, Jesus faced temptation as our captain. As our captain, he leads the way. As our captain, he shows us how to fight. He is our great example. So I want you to see the example of Jesus as our captain.
A few years ago, on one of our trips, I listened on Audible to the well-known book The Art of War, by Sun Zu. This is an ancient Chinese manual on military strategy, by a general from something like the fifth century B.C. This has actually become a classic in both military and leadership literature. It was quite interesting to listen to; The Art of War.
Well, what we find here in Matthew 4 is something like The Art of Spiritual War. We’re seeing Jesus as a military captain, as a general in spiritual warfare, and we’re seeing his tactical strategy as he faces off against the evil one.
I want you to see in this passage four ways that Jesus defeated temptation. View these as four things that you and I should also do in our lives that will help us to face and to defeat temptation.
(1) Number one, we see that Jesus depended on the Spirit’s power. You see it in verse 1, which says that he was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
You remember that, as we saw last week, when Jesus was baptized he came out of the water in the Jordan River and the Spirit of God descended upon him. The Spirit of God rested upon him. So throughout the New Testament we see this close association of Jesus with the Spirit. We could say that Jesus is the quintessentially Spirit-filled human being who not only lived in constant companionship with the Spirit throughout his life but who has now bestowed the Spirit as the great gift of the Father to his people. The Spirit is now the seal of our salvation and the guarantee, the down payment, on our full and final redemption.
Here is Jesus in the fullness of the Spirit, in the power of the Spirit, depending on the Spirit, guided by the Spirit. All of Jesus’ actions, all of his thoughts, are under the guidance and the control of the Spirit of God resting upon him. The way in which Jesus defeats temptation is through the power of the Spirit.
It’s the same way that you and I must fight. The way in which we fight against the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5) is by walking in the Spirit. Paul says it in Galatians 5: “If you walk by the Spirit, you will not fulfill the desires of the flesh.” This is what Jesus did. Jesus is faced with temptations of every kind; he responds in the power of the Spirit. Don’t miss that.
(2) Number two: Jesus also practiced the spiritual disciplines. This is so important for us to grasp and to understand. We see it implicitly in this whole passage.
Solitude—the discipline of solitude. Here’s Jesus, who spends forty days and nights in solitude as he is going through this testing, but he’s also in a time of fasting and of prayer as he is seeking his Father’s face here at the very beginning of his earthly ministry. So you have solitude, you have prayer, you have fasting.
You also have implicit here his meditation on Scripture. As we’re going to see in just a moment, there are three times when Jesus responds to temptations with the word of God. Each time he’s quoting from the book of Deuteronomy. Jesus probably had the entire Torah—the first five books of the Bible—memorized. He had put the word of God into his heart.
He responds out of the strength that was gained in those spiritual disciplines. I wish we had time to give more focus to this, but you could go through especially the Gospel of Luke and look at every time we find Jesus praying, and what you see is that there is an intentional pattern of engagement in ministry and then withdrawal in solitude and in retreat and in prayer as he seeks the face of God.
You find him praying in a desolate place in Luke 5, praying on a mountain in Luke 6, praying alone in Luke 9, going back onto a mountain to pray, also in Luke 9. You find him praying in “a certain place” in Luke 11 and then praying in a garden in Luke 21. So, again and again and again we find Jesus in prayer, as he’s seeking the face of his Father. This was the pattern of his life. It was a pattern of practicing these spiritual disciplines.
Note this—this is important for us to grasp—Reformed theologian Sinclair Ferguson, in a wonderful little book on spiritual growth called Grow in Grace, makes this statement. He says, “Jesus did not possess any special means of spiritual growth which are not available to us. It is essential to realize this if we are to understand Jesus, if we are to become like him.”
Jesus lived in the same pattern of spiritual practices that were the pattern of God’s people Israel, and it’s the same pattern that is handed to us as the way of Jesus. It involves these practices of spiritual discipline.
Here’s what spiritual disciplines do: spiritual disciplines train us to develop us and to develop our capacities to do what we would not otherwise be able to do, and in particular to develop the kind of character that Jesus had so that we can respond to situations the way Jesus did.
You might think of it along the same lines as training for a marathon. My guess is that most of us, if we got up tomorrow morning to try to run a marathon, would not be able to do it. Try as hard as we would, we’re not going to be able to run the marathon; we wouldn’t be able to complete it. Maybe there are one or two of you who are always at the gym and you’re working out all the time and you’re able to do it. But the rest of us, ordinary mortals that we are, we wouldn’t be able to do that. You could try really hard, but you wouldn’t make it to the end of the race.
But if you started training tomorrow and you trained for the next year, most of us would be able to get to that point, with some intentionality and with some discipline and with some training. Lots of ordinary people run marathons, but you have to train for it. It’s not just trying hard!
A lot of times as we live the Christian life we’re just trying really, really hard to be good. We’re trying really, really hard to defeat temptation; and we fail. Why are we failing? Because we’re not training, because we’re not practicing these kinds of spiritual practices and disciplines that actually develop our character and that change us. Jesus practiced these spiritual disciplines; we need to learn to do so as well.
(3) As a subset of that, we could say, number three, that Jesus knew, quoted, and obeyed the Scriptures. This was a spiritual discipline, but I want to give some attention to this for just a moment.
You see this three times in the passage. With each one of the temptations, when the devil comes to him and tempts him Jesus responds by saying, “It is written.” In Matthew 4:4 he quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, in Matthew 4:7 he quotes Deuteronomy 6:16, and in Matthew 4:10 he quotes Deuteronomy 6:13.
Jesus here takes the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and he defeats the evil one. He had done what the psalmist had said in Psalm 119:11: “Your word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”
A number of years ago I read a very old book by the monastic desert father Evagrius Ponticus. He was a fourth-century desert father who went to the desert in Egypt, and he wrote this book that is called Antirrhetikos, which is a Greek word that means “refutation.” It might be translated Talking Back. It’s essentially a monastic handbook for combating demons.
I wonder what’s going through your mind right now. You’re thinking, What is this? These desert fathers combating demons? You’re probably wondering, What did they do? Was it some kind of a weird, mystical incantation, this process where they’re exorcizing demons?
You’d be really surprised—you read this book, and essentially what the book does is it looks at these eight thoughts or eight demons, and they’re really just eight sins. The whole book is just quoting Scripture to defeat specific aspects of sinful temptation. That’s the whole book. He quotes 482 passages of Scripture to combat the eight sins. (This is, by the way, the list that eventually was reduced to seven and became the seven deadly sins.)
Maybe Evagrius was onto something. He’s doing essentially what Jesus did; he’s putting the word of God to use in the spiritual battle.
Let me tell you a story. I’ve told this before, but it’s been a few years, so some of you haven’t heard this before. Years ago, in a previous life, Holly and I lived in Texas. We lived in the big country in Texas, and this is snake country. It’s rattlesnake country. We lived out in the country where there were snakes on our property. We had guns, and one day I trained Holly and showed her how to use a gun. I’ve never been an expert with guns or anything, but we had a shotgun, and I showed her how to use a gun in case there was ever a snake.
Sure enough, one day when I was picking up a friend at an airport in Dallas, Holly was mowing the yard one day, and she ran over a snake. She initially thought it was a toy snake and she reached down to touch it. It was a real snake! Just a little snake. Anyway, she freaked out.
She pulled out the shotgun, got on the phone with me, and I was telling her, “Okay, you load it like this, you do this, point the gun, shoot the gun.” I remember listening. I heard this loud, “Boom!” on the phone. She shot the gun. Then she picked back up. She said, “I missed it! I missed it!” I mean, this was point-blank range! With a shotgun! She missed the snake. The yard did not get mowed that day, because Holly was not well-trained with the weapon.
Some of us in our spiritual battles are so ill-equipped with the Scriptures that we’re just like that. We face temptation and we don’t know what Bible verse to use. We don’t have it hidden away in our hearts. We don’t know how to defeat a temptation. We’re just sitting ducks for everything that comes at us, because we have not trained and because we have not put the Scriptures to use in our lives.
I want to just ask you this morning, do you know the Scriptures so that you’re able to quote the Scriptures, so that you’re able to use the Scriptures, obey the Scriptures in the moment of temptation? Have you developed a familiarity with the Bible through constant reading and re-reading? Have you hidden some precious verses away in your heart so that when the temptation comes you have something to pull, you have a weapon that you can draw in that moment of temptation and you can fight?
This is how Jesus fought, and it’s how you and I have to fight as well.
(4) Number four—here’s the fourth thing we learn from the example of Jesus as our captain—Jesus worshiped God alone. You see it in the third temptation, when the devil takes him to this very high mountain. He showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. So this is probably something like a vision, and the devil is saying, “I will give all of these kingdoms to you if you’ll fall down and worship me.”
Of course, this was what God had promised. God had promised that all the kingdoms of the earth would belong to the Son, the anointed Son, the king. Read Psalm 2. This is what Jesus came to do! He came to establish the kingdom of God. There’s a limited sense in which Satan, as the ruler of this world, had these kingdoms in his hand. But the temptation is, “All you have to do is fall down and worship me.”
Notice what Jesus does. We see his unswerving devotion to worshiping God alone. He says, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written [again, he’s quoting Deuteronomy 6:13], ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’” So Jesus defeats the temptation to idolatry because his heart is set on God alone.
Listen, every temptation to sin is at its root a temptation to idolatry. It’s a temptation to put something else in front of God, to put something first besides God. The whole struggle in our culture today with addictions is, even though there may be medical and physical components, it is at the soul level worship disorder, as Edward Welch says in his wonderful book on addictions.
Here’s the point of all that I’m saying here: As soldiers of Jesus Christ, you and I are also engaged in a spiritual battle, but to win the battle we have to know how to fight. The way you learn to fight is by looking at the captain of our salvation, who has gone before us and has already defeated our enemy. He shows us how to do it.
Let’s just apply this for a moment before we move to the final point. Let me ask you these questions:
Are you living in spiritual and moral victory in your life, or do you feel defeated?
Have you learned how to overcome temptation, or do you find yourself easily giving in to temptation?
Is God at the center, or are you putting something else first?
I think the problem is that a lot of times we theoretically—in theory, God comes first, but not in practice.
I’ve been working through a book with our church staff called God and Soul-Care, written by Eric Johnson. In this book Eric Johnson distinguishes between what he calls the “center ideal” and the “psychological center” in a person’s life.
The center ideal—that’s what we ideally think is the center of our lives. Most of us would say, if we were asked, “What’s the center of your life?” we’d say, “Well, the glory of God. Jesus Christ. Worshiping God.” That’s the center ideal. But for so many of us it's the theoretical center; it’s the center ideal, but it’s not our psychological center. It’s not the center of our lives when we’re actually in the heat of the moment. The psychological center is often something very different. It may be personal comfort, it may be sexual fulfillment, it might be financial security, it might be harmony in our relationships, it might be esteem of our peers and colleagues or professional success, so that in the moment it’s that that governs our actual decision-making and how we arrange our daily schedules, rather than putting God at the center.
For you and I to really win these battles, to be like Jesus in the world, we have to learn to live as Jesus lived. We need to live in the strength of the Spirit not in the strength of our own flesh. We need to put in practice the spiritual habits and disciplines that structure our lives in such a way that our character is being transformed and we grow. We need a deep understanding of the word of God, and we need to be committed and devoted to worshiping God alone as first place in our hearts and in our lives.
3. Jesus’ Triumph as Our King
Brothers and sisters, we need the sympathy of Jesus as our brother, we need the example of Jesus as our captain, but we need something more than that. We also need the triumph of Jesus as our king. That’s point number three.
The story of the temptation of Christ is more than just an example for us to follow. It is for us the record of the incarnate Christ’s first recorded victory over the great enemy of our souls.
I love the way the Puritan Thomas Manton put it. He said,
“Here is the Prince of peace against the prince of darkness; Michael and the dragon, the captain of our salvation and our grand enemy. The devil is the great architect of wickedness as Christ is the Prince of life and righteousness. These are the combatants—the one ruined the creation of God, the other restored it and repaired it.”
Here is Jesus, who comes to win the battle! Of course, what he experiences here is just a foreshadowing of a much greater battle that will follow as Jesus faces off against the powers of darkness in that final week of his life on the cross.
I think for us to grasp what Jesus accomplished here, we need to understand that Jesus here inhabits two roles. There are two roles that Jesus is filling. He’s not just one with us in our humanity, but he is a representative. He is the one who is standing in the place of others.
(1) We see it in two ways. We see it when we consider that Jesus is the new Israel. We’ve talked about this already in this series, that there’s a pattern in Matthew’s Gospel, and it’s the exodus pattern. “Out of Egypt I have called my son,” Matthew 2 says. It’s kind of establishing in our minds that Jesus here is reliving the story of Israel. We see it when he’s called out of Egypt as a child, we see it when he goes into these baptismal waters in Matthew 3, and we see it now as he goes into the wilderness to be tempted for forty days and forty nights. It follows the same pattern as Israel’s story, as they were delivered out of Egypt, they went through this baptism in the Red Sea, and then forty years in the wilderness.
I think it’s confirmed by the fact that in each of the temptations Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, and it’s exactly the context of Israel in the wilderness. They’ve just come out of the wilderness, and now God is reminding them through the words of Moses of what he was teaching them. He was teaching them that they were not to live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. God was teaching them to love and to worship God alone, and to not put God to the test.
Jesus here comes as the new Israel, he relives the story of Israel, and in every point where Israel failed Jesus as the new Israel succeeds. He is the representative, then, for the people of God.
(2) But he’s not only the new Israel, he’s also the second Adam, to use the language of the apostle Paul from 1 Corinthians 15. He’s the second Adam; he’s the new Adam, or even the last Adam.
There’s another temptation story, isn’t there? The whole Bible begins with a temptation story, Genesis 3, as Adam and Eve, the first human beings, are tempted in the ideal conditions of the garden. They are tempted by this serpent, who later in Scripture is identified with the great adversary of our souls, Satan. They’re tempted in ideal conditions, and they fail. But here’s Jesus, who comes as the second Adam, the head of a new creation, a new representative man, and he faces off against this enemy—the serpent, the dragon. He faces him off in the hostile conditions of the Judean desert, and in every point where Adam failed, Jesus wins.
This was the point that the church father made in his wonderful book Against Heresies, from the second century. Here’s a slightly edited quote from Irenaeus. He said,
“When the Son of God became incarnate and was made man, he furnished us with salvation so that he might recover in Christ Jesus what we had lost in Adam. For he fought and conquered, for he bound the strong man and set free the weak and endowed his own handiwork with salvation by destroying sin; wherefore also he passed through every stage of life, restoring to all communion with God. God recapitulated in himself the ancient formation of man, that he might kill sin, deprive death of its power, and vivify man, and therefore his works are true.”
Jesus is the second Adam, the last Adam. The poet put it like this:
“O, loving wisdom of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.
“O, wisest love! that flesh and blood
Which did in Adam fail,
Should strive afresh against the foe,
Should strive and should prevail!”
Jesus as the second and the last Adam has won the fight! He’s won the victory, he has triumphed over sin and Satan.
We read it this morning in our assurance of pardon. Through death he defeated the one who had the power of death and had held us captive in slavery to death throughout our lives. Jesus defeated him.
We read in 1 John 3:8 that the reason the Son of God appeared was to “destroy the works of the devil.” How did he do it, ultimately? By living the life we should have lived and then by dying the death we should have died on the cross. For at the cross, Paul tells us, God disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in Christ. We need the triumph of the King.
Brothers and sisters, it’s only through the triumph of King Jesus, who wins the victory over sin and Satan and death and hell, that you and I can even be enlisted in the fight so that we begin to fight the battle, following in the footsteps of our captain. So Jesus is our brother, he is our captain, he is our King. In every point where you and I have faced temptation and failed, Jesus has faced the same temptations, and he has come out as the triumphant, victorious Lord.
When we consider the temptation of Jesus, it gives us comfort and confidence, because he sympathizes with us in our weaknesses. It gives us an example. It shows us how to fight and to win, and we need to take that to heart this morning and start building up our spiritual lives and following in the way of Jesus. But supremely, when we look at the temptation of Christ it shows us that the victory has already been won, because Jesus is our triumphant King who has delivered us from the powers of evil. He’s forgiven us of our sins, he’s brought us out of darkness into his light, and he has now brought us into his family and into his kingdom as soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Are you in the fight this morning? Will you be in the fight this week? I hope you will, and I hope that you will fix your eyes on Jesus and that you will follow him. Let’s pray together.
Gracious and merciful God, we thank you this morning for the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ that gives us the assurance that Christ has come and has done what none of us could do: he has faced evil, he has defeated evil at every point. We thank you that Christ as our brother has compassion on us, as he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses. We thank you that Christ as our captain has led the way and has shown us how to live.
We ask you, Father, by your Spirit to take these truths and apply them deeply to our hearts and lives. Help us, each one, to do the kind of necessary heart work this week to examine our hearts and our lives and even the structures of our schedules and the priorities, the way we’re spending time with you or not spending time with you. Show us, Lord, where specific changes need to take place, so that we can be trained to live the way Jesus lived in the world.
We thank you especially that Jesus is the triumphant King who has defeated Satan once and for all. Lord, we want to live in the strength of that victory. We want this morning to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, and to put on the whole armor of God. We ask you to help us to do that today.
As we come to the Lord’s table, may these moments of prayer and reflection, and then communion with you in this sacred meal, may this be a means of grace where we fix our hearts and our minds on Jesus, crucified and risen for us. May it strengthen us for the battle this week as we look to Christ and by faith draw strength from him. We ask you, Lord, to draw near to us in these moments. We pray it in Jesus’ name and for his sake, amen.