We had some technical difficulty with the sermon video this week, so here is the text of the sermon:

Jesus Tempted in the Desert

As most of you know, my wife is my partner in ministry – as we pray, write, and minister to others together. There’s no denying that Christiane has been in some sort of desert lately – as she’s dealt with a lot of physical pain, emotional loss, death of her father, and spine surgery this past week. She loves you and misses being here, and she wants you to know that she feels your love and prayers. And, I’m also very grateful for the ways God continues to speak to her even in this message.  

As we started Lent this week, we have the opportunity to set aside these 40 days before Easter to renew our love for God and others. It seems very appropriate to have this passage, on our 1st Sunday in Lent, about Jesus being tempted in the desert while he prayed and fasted.

I want us to look at this passage with a new set of eyes. Not trying to determine whether or not we’re going to fast, but focusing on the heart of Jesus’ message for us.

There are a couple of things we wanted to highlight. As we look at the 3 ways the enemy tries to tempt Jesus, we can see 3 attacks:

1. The WHO: Jesus’s identity – who He is

2. The WHAT: Jesus’s mission – what he came to do 

3. The WHY: Jesus’s allegiance – his trust

As we are vulnerable to be tempted the same way, there’s a lot we can learn from this passage. 

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.’”

The enemy says, “If you’re really The Beloved, God knows you’re hungry and he would be okay with you being self-serving – if he really loves you, he will give you power to turn these stones into bread.” 

Do you hear it? Does that sound familiar? Does God really love you? Are you sure He’s not hiding something? The enemy tried the same with Adam and Eve. Distorting God’s words and sowing doubt about God’s character. 

Adam and Eve didn’t resist, but Jesus is fully human and fully God. The perfect Adam. And that’s how he sets things right for us.

Jesus doesn’t deny he’s hungry but rather focus on the fact that food alone won’t give him LIFE. Real life comes from knowing God and obeying him – that’s what leads you to trust Him and have the assurance that at the end God has your best interest at heart. So, even if you go through a period of hunger, or loneliness, or financial hardship, or spiritual doubt, he will meet you with life everlasting. You are NOT promised a life without struggle, but He IS WITH you every step of the way.  He is and forever can be our identity, and that identity is secure.  Then…

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.’” 

Once again the enemy comes after his identity and His mission. Imagine the scene: Jesus jumping at the pinnacle of the temple and being caught by angels. Does it sound like Jesus? Or Does it look like some leaders of today, drawing so much attention to themselves? Trying so hard to prove they have ‘what it takes’, they’re the special ones? 

I’m not going to ask you to raise your hands, but who among us have never felt a desire to exalt yourself? Jesus is the image of the invisible God, Col 1 tells us. So, there’s a reason Peter tells us ‘to humble ourselves so that he will exalt us’. It’s because he saw that humility clearly in Jesus. 

Here is Jesus resisting this temptation because he knows exactly who he is and what he is here to do. Jesus is going to display the unique power of God over and over again in his ministry, but not for vain reasons. Rather, it is always for the benefit of others, for the sake of those in need. That’s an important reminder for us. We’re here to display his splendor, his grace, his ministry for the sake of others – not for our own consumption. 

Jesus goes all the way to the cross because he knew we needed His redemption – our flesh needed to be transformed by the recapitulation, the retelling, of the human story. So he came, he walked with us, he died, resurrected and ascended so that we have a new life in Him. 

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.” 10 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.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Now the enemy isn’t even trying to disguise his intentions anymore. He comes head on. Worship me – not God. He has tried to cultivate doubt about Jesus’s identity; to reorient Jesus’ ministry; and now he’s desperate and lays out the intention he’s had from the beginning – to replace God. 

When he asks Jesus to worship him, he reveals how he wants to BE God. He wants to be the one worshiped and glorified. The problem – for him – which happens to be our saving grace – is that there’s only ONE TRINITARIAN GOD. Only ONE worthy of all praise and all glory. 

And, that’s why Jesus – being fully God and fully human – refers back to the essence of the Shamah. The Israelites were taught early on about Deut 6:4 

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might”

I want us to understand the importance of this truth. There’s a reason why this is also the basis of our Great Command. What grounds us, what centers our lives in the reality of God’s goodness is this truth:


This is the truth that allows us to:

  • First: make sure He’s enthroned in our lives  – not us. We are NOT God
  • Second: Turn our faces to Him – being naked and unashamed before Him. When we come to the end of ourselves and recognize His deity, beauty and power – that’s when we get to share in his glory. He’s not afraid to share his glory with us. He just knows we can’t handle it unless we are in alignment with Him.
  • and last but not least: it is the truth that He is One that gives us the right perspective to know who WE are in Him. When we know that, we also know our purpose/mission.

As we take this season of Lent to assess our lives, and come closer to God, I want to ask you to spend time thinking about what Jesus accomplished for us in this passage. By resisting the enemy, and empowering us to do the same, He calls us to live a life that is grounded in the truth of Who God is. 

– A life that is not self-serving, 

– a life that displays God’s glory to others, 

  • a life that is not tormented by the enemy, but lives in peace because is fully secure in your identity as Child of the Most High.