18th June 2023

The Temptation of Christ 4

Passage: Matthew 4:1-11, Hebrews 11:1-2, 5:7-8, Philippians 2:8
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

Well, this morning is our fourth Sunday morning on the temptations of Christ. This never was my intention, but diving into the topic, there's so much about it that it's given us fodder for food across these four Sunday mornings.

And in your bulletin, I think I repeated the message we started with last week, which was in the book of Hebrews, and had just a little phrase in the Hebrews 5, verses 7 and 8, if you've got one of these bulletins that's on the front this morning. And it's talking about the fact that Jesus' salvation is something that's because of how he died on the cross, his death, but that his salvation didn't only include the fact of his death and resurrection and ascension, all those things, but also that the temptations were a necessary part of the process.

And Jesus being tempted is something that's allowed him to pass the test. This is what in the previous Sundays we've been talking about, that God set up for humanity with a purpose eventually of them being introduced to eternal life, the Garden of Eden, but we the human race failed, and we're all incorporated in that failure. And so it is that eventually someone had to come and pass the test in order to be perfect. And it was for being perfect that he would be available to be the sacrifice for our sins, that it was necessary for Jesus to face that temptation. And so that was where we've gotten up to.

And what's interesting is that as we read the passages about the temptations of Christ, you suddenly get pointed to the fact that Jesus was very aware of what he was going through in going into the wilderness. And part of what we've been remarking on is how the scriptures tell us in Matthew, Mark and Luke, they tell us that Jesus was led of the Spirit or by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And so it was the purpose of God for him to face that temptation, even though he didn't make the temptations and the Bible teaches God doesn't tempt anybody and he can't be tempted himself, but nonetheless it was for the purpose of Jesus facing those temptations.

And from our verse in Hebrews that we looked at last week, but also we've got it up on the screen at the moment, it tells us how Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death. And he was heard because of his reverence. And last week, I think I was finishing up on the point where the idea of reverence is his fear of God and respect to obey God, very important to Jesus, and he was heard because of his reverence. And immediately there we see that God looking after Jesus was something that was in the result of his reverence.

And when we look through the Scriptures, we're always being faced all the time as to whether or not things happen just because God willed it and there's no other thing to say, he just decided and that was it, or whether the Bible is calling on us to respond in a certain way so that he can have grace. And there are two opinions, both of which are right, if you want to know, that there is a grace that the Scriptures describes which has got nothing to do with anything we do. It is God just acting in mercy. And that's a very important truth never to lose, but that is not the total description of grace, because grace is one of those concepts that is worded with different vocabulary, and it has the idea also that there are graces from God that he can give when we're obedient. It's still grace.

There are actually different Greek words that are used for the concept of grace, and one of them is the one that Paul often used with the idea of God's sheer forgiveness and bountiful love and just the fact that he steps in. But there are other words that are used for grace that has the idea of God bestowing on people a grace because it's the Holy Spirit moving to give them a capacity to do things. And both of those concepts are in the Bible. And then there is the grace that the Bible refers to when it talks about often using our translations come out and say love, but the word agape, which is the best word for love, is often used for that same concept of grace, but there are verses that say things like keep yourself in the love of God, the implication being that there is a part that we have to play to keep ourselves under the love of God, and clearly that's not a grace that God does even though it's totally undeserved and there's nothing you did to contribute to it. But both of those things are in the Scriptures.

And when it comes to Jesus, what was his story when he suffered the temptations? Did that suffering of the temptations and his success at them actually contribute towards how God the Father used him? The answer is yes. And it was necessary for him to face those temptations and to succeed. And how was Jesus thinking? You know there's a whole area of biblical studies of Christian understanding that's fairly new, and I say new in the last 50 years, new area for people to go into, and it's called studying about the psychology or studying about the personal makeup of Jesus' mind and his being aware of what he had to do, and it's called the self-consciousness of Jesus. How was he thinking and what was his consciousness? And there are scholars who delve into the Scriptures to try and get a picture of what Jesus' mentality was. And here this verse in Hebrews, which last week we're on, and now I'm bringing it up again.

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death. And immediately if you're studying about Jesus' self-consciousness, you're aware that he is aware of the difficulty that he's been called to do, walking all the way out into the wilderness to be tempted. And his awareness of what it means is that he cries out to the Father for help with loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death.

And as I said in the previous weeks, there's two spots where you could take this to be what Hebrews is describing of. One is in the wilderness temptation and another one is in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus almost died out of the stress of looking toward going to the cross and actually cries out to God the Father with words, Father, if it be possible, take this cup away from me. Jesus doesn't want to have to experience all that was involved in going to the cross. He was committed himself to do that, it was a part of the purpose of his coming to earth, but the sheer awfulness of what it would bring to him made him say, if it be possible, take this cup from me. And then he says, nevertheless, yet not what I will, but yours be done.

And emphasising that Jesus is not just God with another face on, Jesus is the God-man. By the way, thank you to the person who fixed up the book that I made a passing comment on, the children's storybook about Jesus still in the storms, and it goes very wonderfully through the fact of who is Jesus and it answers it by what he was doing in these miracles. It gets to the last page and it says the answer, just as a great big God, and I made a comment in passing that, though that's all true, it's only half the truth. Because what is Jesus is how the disciples often ask, who is this man that even the winds and the storms obey him? Who is this man? In the later epistles, which are talking about the fact that there needs to be someone between God and us, and it says there is only one mediator, and then it says the man, Christ Jesus. And you haven't answered the question fully, who is Jesus, if you just say he's God. He's the God-man and has a relationship with the Father in a way that is to be what human beings are meant to copy, he's the paradigm, he's the model for us. And for us as Christians, we follow suit to be like Jesus and the encouragement of the New Testament is always to be as Jesus was with the Father, so now that Jesus has ascended to heaven and been made Lord of Lords, we have the same call to be related to him.

What is the conduit between the heavenly deity and the ones on earth is the Holy Spirit. And the call of the scriptures is not just to say Jesus is God and he'll fix everything up, but it's a call for us to relate to him through the power of the Holy Spirit just as Jesus himself did with the Father. And if you went into his self-consciousness, it is that he deliberately decides not to do things by his own strength. He says he only does them by what he sees the Father doing, so he does. He matches the leadership of the Father communicated by the Holy Spirit, which is how he is the Christ and the word Christ means anointed one. And the whole expectation of the Jewish nation was that one day God would provide a leader who would deliver the kingdom of God, but it would be the kingdom of God, even though this person was to be a man, because he'd have God's Spirit on him. That's why the word Christos means anointed one. That's why Jesus, when he was in the synagogue, says the Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me and lists the things he'd come to do.

Jesus only did what he saw the Father leading him or what the Father led him by the Spirit to do. And the words that he gave were the words of the Father. Jesus was the conduit of the kingdom of heaven, now down on earth, by virtue of him being that Messiah. He was expected by the Jewish nation, and that's who he was. And someone here has very nicely fixed that book and left it out on the table there by taking something and sticking it over that last page, it just says God, and allowing the final page to be the previous one, which very clearly says who he is, that he is the Son of God.

And the nature of his being the second person of the Trinity having come to earth and taken on to be man as God always designed man to live out, is who Jesus is, nothing less. Too complicated for little kiddies to pick up straight away, so we teach them just a little bit at a time, but it's good for all that teaching we give to the children to eventually lead them to a lot more than just saying he's God and he can do whatever God wants to do. Jesus didn't do in his self-consciousness just what he wanted to do. He said all that the Father leads him to do, that he does. And the biggest proof of his deity wasn't because he did things of his own power, but that it was the Father's works being done through him, and he could say I and the Father are one, not one of singularity, but one of unity.

One of the Old Testament statements about God is where it uses the Hebrew word which is in the plural Elohim, and where it says the Lord our God, and it uses that second God with the plural. So if you wanted to be accurate you'd say the Lord our God is one, but not the one of singularity and aloneness, but the unity that the God, the Father and God, the Son and God, the Holy Spirit, these three members of the Trinity, they are one. One God. We only worship one God, but he's in three persons. That is a mystery that you'll never unfathom, and if you try and set yourself to it you'll wreck your mind. It's beyond our comprehension, knowing that the idea of comprehend means you can wrap your mind all around it and sum it up and understand it. You'll never comprehend God. He's beyond our comprehension, and if you understand the consciousness of Jesus, it is that he knows who he is.

Now that raises for the people who study the self-consciousness of Christ, and it is quite an area of New Testament studies, by the way, but the people who study that area is when did Jesus know who he was after being born? I've told our congregation previously that Michelle and I have a bit of a disagreement about a song, away in a manger, no crib for his bed, the little Lord Jesus laid down his sweet head, and a part of the wording of it, I hope I've got the right song, it says no crying he made. And I'm trying to teach the theology professor, my wife, to be more theological, and I say that's actually silly to teach little kiddies no crying he made. He wasn't unnatural. I think he went wah, wah, wah, just like little babies do. Because he came to take on humanity with all that that meant.

But then Michelle replies with good knowledge of English, she is an English teacher, and she says no, this is just a cameo picture of in the stable, where at that instant of the photograph being taken, you know, to write up about, he's not crying at that moment. Doesn't have to be that it's not saying he doesn't ever cry, so she won the argument, I guess. But the self-consciousness of Jesus, how much have you thought about that, or have you just never noticed that it was there in front of your eyes? He offered up prayers and supplication with loud cries and tears. He was in need.

And part of what I've been doing in talking about the temptations of Christ through the book of Hebrews is that these verses speak about the fact that he was in a desperate position. Why was he in a desperate position? It's actually the very angle that the devil had to use when eventually he tempts him, "if you are the son of God, turn these stones into bread." I don't know whether you think this way, but I've often thought about the temptation record and asked myself the question, what was so wrong with turning stones into bread, that it was a temptation? Anybody here ever wondered that? What made it a temptation? Surely if we could turn stones into bread and make Australia a very prosperous place, go out to the Nullarbor and start a bread industry without you needing to have farms or wheat or anything. There are plenty of stones out there, by the way. Anyway, so what was it about that temptation?

Now when we're reading, and please go to Matthew and Chapter 4, another passage that I've been talking through, then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, and after fasting 40 days and 40 nights, he was hungry, and in the previous Sunday mornings I've been describing that this is called the second hunger, because if you go 40 days without eating, you start off feeling the hunger goes away, your body is busy getting its nourishment out of all your organs and whatever in reserves, I should say is better, but if you use all those reserves up and there's nothing left, the body then cannibalizes your organs. It's called the second hunger, and if you don't satisfy it, you'll go into one of those hunger deaths that people in jail sometimes do as a protest. You don't die instantly, but you're running downhill, and if you've ever not got any food and the second hunger comes, it's a very strong hunger, and it's very hard to bear. And so the devil picks weights to, Jesus is well and truly hungry to come with this final, one of the final temptations he's going to bring. Now just before I pass the point, let me first of all say, though, that when you read through the various gospel accounts of Jesus being tempted, you realize that he was being tempted by the devil all the 40 days and 40 nights. There were especially powerful temptations at the end, but it wasn't like he was just experiencing a country trip and eventually gets hungry and the devil comes then. Now I know that because the way the wording is when you put all the different gospels together, it's clear that the devil's been at him all the 40 days. Into the wilderness, verse 1, to be tempted by the devil, and that looks like it could just be at the end, but if you look at the other gospels, you'll see that the 40 days is the period of the tempting. And when we look again at Hebrews, the way the Hebrews writes up about this for Jesus is that the temptation was a suffering. And that suffering was in the difficulty of being tempted. And if ever you've gone for a long fast, you'll know what I'm talking about, it takes a very strong will not to give in and to want to satisfy your hunger. So right across the 40 days, Jesus was being gotten at by the devil, but he culminates it at the end.

Now the little word, if, look at there, verse 3, if you are the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. The little word, if, is one of those words that has a range of meaning that includes what we use if, when Michelle says, will you buy some milk, and I'll say, if I get finished this thing I'm trying to write, and you mean by if, unless, or you mean maybe, that's in our English word. But our English word only has a certain range of meaning, the if, but the one that's coming out of the Greek has a broader semantic range, you call it, of meaning, and that range more often means since. And it's a better translation that fits what's going on here, if you understand what's being said, since you are the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. Now what that's getting at is the temptation is coming from the devil for Jesus to step out of the obedience he'd always promised to the Father that he wouldn't do anything in his own independent right. He would do what the Father leaves him to do. From our reading in the Gospels, we can't see how much the Father has led him to do, but when you put together other passages in the Gospels, you realize that Jesus very clearly was only going to do what the Father was leading him to do. And the temptation, since you are the son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread, because Jesus certainly was all-powerful, there wasn't any of the attributes of deity that he didn't have. The theologians talk about, did he actually not keep them when he came to earth, or did he just choose not to use them? I think it is the latter, but that's just a little minor point. Since you are the son of God, do the business on the stones. Now why was that a temptation?

We can learn the answer to that question by going back into the Old Testament and looking at some of the things that happened at the institution of the Old Covenant. This is Jesus getting ready to do the necessities to introduce the New Covenant. Jesus, by the way, to do what was all necessary to prepare the availability of the New Covenant, required of him that he would do something about our sins, required of him his cross work, and then the resurrection, and then his return to heaven and the availability of the Holy Spirit being passed to him by the Father, so that on the day of Pentecost he could send the Holy Spirit, not just to come and go as the Holy Spirit did in Old Testament times, but the Holy Spirit to come permanently to indwell as a part of what God gave to people who got into the New Covenant. Jesus' first Pentecostal sermon, which by the way wasn't an A.O.G. sermon, it was on the day of Pentecost, which means the 50th day since the Day of Atonement, but the actual sermon was a gospel message. I like to tell people who are very championing, you know, we like being Pentecostals and I like to point out to them that the first Pentecostal sermon was a gospel sermon, and the gospel sermon was about how Jesus had accomplished all necessary for us to get right with God and that we would receive the gift of forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit. So the Holy Spirit as a gift is what was given at the day of Pentecost, and he came and baptized them, which means they were immersed in the power of the Spirit. It was the first time that people could have the baptism in the Spirit as promised by Jesus when he compared himself to John the Baptist and said, John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit many days hence, and he said that just before he ascended and just before the day of Pentecost.

And the Pentecostal moment was when the first availability of the difference that is between John the Baptist and Jesus was made available. Anyway, at that moment of receiving the Holy Spirit permanently, that's called the baptism in the Spirit. It comes as the moment of the entrance of someone into the new covenant, but what I was meaning to point out to you is that Jesus lived his life under the old covenant. The Bible actually says that he was born under the law. It tells us that Jesus was there to fulfill the law, and what maybe we haven't made much of in Christian preaching is that what Jesus did when he came and he lived under the law, he was passing the test which the Jewish people had failed. For God and his economy of teaching and of bringing people up to speed as to what was necessary for the new covenant had first of all introduced the old covenant and introduced the standards that God requested. There's nothing wrong with the old covenant standards. God hasn't changed them. He has the same holiness that they enshrined. There were some ceremonial things he might no longer require in the new covenant, but Jesus was born under the old covenant. He had to because he died under the restrictions of the old covenant in order to buy you and us out of that commitment. Whatever you do, don't go and join some Christian group that has you all thinking you're in the Old Testament again or thinking that you've got to do all these ceremonies and you'll be more holy if you have special ones that the Jews did in the old covenant. That's going back to something that God has cancelled. He hasn't cancelled it because there's anything wrong with the old covenant.

He's cancelled it because his son came and fulfilled it, and Jesus had to pass the test that not only Adam and Eve had failed in the Garden of Eden, but the Jewish nation again and again and again had failed. Let's turn to a scripture that's talking about this in the book of Joel. The book of Joel, I think it's chapter 11, and it's talking about the failure of the Jewish people under the old. Did I not give you one? Sorry? Yeah, you're correct. It's Hosea, not Joel. When Israel was a child, I loved him. This is Joel, Hosea, chapter 11, verses 1 to 2. When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. That's Israel. He delivered them under Moses' leadership out of Egypt, that they might be the son that would be his true children child. The more they were called, the more they went away. They kept sacrificing to Baals and burning offerings to idols. I just quoted there two verses, but you can go through a whole chapter of the lament of God, and having called and got his people, the Jewish people, saved out of Egypt, they then failed and failed and failed again. That which was, notice it says, out of Egypt I call my son, the one that's going to do the will of the Father. Jesus, because of what had happened in his life, and particularly with the most recent event before these temptations happened, was his baptism when the Holy Spirit came on him, not just to touch him and go away again, but to permanently abide on him. He was born of the Spirit, and now he has been baptized in the Spirit. Now he has been anointed of the Spirit. Jesus coming out of the water at his baptism has the Spirit come on him. John the Baptist had been warned as to who was this Messiah that he was to introduce to Israel, and John the Baptist was told that when you see the Spirit of light on him and stay on him, that's the one who is the Messiah.

When it happened, then Jesus was chased by the Spirit or led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. Now for certain, that happening to Jesus, and we've been talking this morning about the self-consciousness of Christ, he knew what it meant for the Spirit to come on him because he had studied the Old Testament. He could answer the big Jewish intellectuals in the temple. He had the Holy Spirit with him all the time, not in a sense of ministry as he later would, but he had the Spirit from birth. He was born of the Spirit. Every time he'd be down there in the synagogue, every time someone would be talking from the Old Testament scriptures, the Spirit is teaching him. One of the things in this field of study called the self-consciousness of Jesus is the question, when did he find out who he was? Some people have never even thought that, and they just think he always knew. He stepped out of the womb of Jesus and did not say, mwah, mwah, mwah. Yeah, he did, because I think he was a normal baby just learning as he looks around. But across time, every time they opened the scriptures, the Holy Spirit would be teaching him who he was. And so, although not all the people studying that self-consciousness of Jesus come to the same conclusion, I should tell you, but nonetheless, that's the one I think is the most evidence for it, that Jesus knew who he was because the Spirit kept telling him as he was taught the scriptures. And when in the synagogue they handed him a scroll, they were handing it to the person who wrote it, and they were handing him to the person that it's talking about. Don't you think he knew what the scriptures said?

He sure did, because he's the person who's behind the scenes and caused those Old Testament scriptures to be written, and he's the person that they were talking about. And he learned who he was, and when he had to read in the synagogue, the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, I bet he didn't read that with a dry eye. He was talking about himself, because he has anointed me to do this, to do that, whatever. And then all three Gospels gives the idea, one way or another, that immediately he goes out to the desert under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to be tempted. So don't you think that because of that scripture understanding in the synagogue, that Jesus knew about his purpose of being a true son who would pass the test? That he knew that with the role that he'd been born into, as well as the person that he was, that he had a vocation. If anybody's ever had a vocation, it was Jesus. It was to be the ideal son. It was to be the one who stood in for humanity, and by success, passed the tests of God by keeping the law and being obedient to the Father. He knew the role that he was in, to do as the Spirit led. And when the devil came to him and said, "if you are the Son of God," I think it is since you are the Son of God, what are you worried about being hungry? Jesus turned these stones into bread, but he had not been led so to do. And the temptation was to do things off his own back, and not wait on God.

Now, I gave a title to this message this morning, during the week, thinking about it, and the title is "Leave Room for God," because one of the things about waiting on God, for him to show what he wants done, is that you don't put your things in there. You're making room for God to do his thing. And the question of Jesus feeling that he might die because he's been 40 days fasting and he's got the second hunger, he doesn't think he's going to die. His body might be giving warning signs that if he doesn't eat soon, he will. But he is being tempted not to rely upon the leadership of God, but to do it in his own self-independence. I'm going to show you why I think that. You might be asking in your minds, "Well, how do you know that, Jim?" I'll tell you in a minute.

It has to do with the Old Testament story of how God introduced the Old Covenant with Moses. And in the case with Moses, don't forget all these Old Testament scriptures, Jesus would know better than anybody. But if we turn to some of those, that's what we should do, turn to one in the Old Testament. Let's choose, first of all, Exodus 34, 24 to 28, or 27 to 28, Exodus 34. You're very quick on that. Thank you very much. That's very helpful. And the Lord said to Moses, write these words, for in accordance with these words, I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. So he was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights. He neither ate bread nor drank water, and he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments. So the giving of the Old Testament law was that with the precedent of Moses, the leader of the Old Covenant, fasting 40 days and 40 nights. Let's go to another one, Deuteronomy 8, 2 to 3. And here God is talking of the five books of the Old Testament, Exodus is number two and Deuteronomy, it's either number five or number four, I've forgotten. Anyway, Deuteronomy 8, and we've got verses two. Here it's talking to the issue of keeping the law and why God led them eventually when Moses got them out of Egypt, they then went through the wilderness for a long time. And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these 40 years. There's a figure 40 again, these 40 years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you, this is to Moses and to the children of Israel that he led, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna. Now they couldn't go the 40 years without eating, but they were given manna, but manna wasn't exactly very appetizing. It was something unknown, it wasn't something anybody had a relish to get and eat. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

Now what that is saying is, is the highest priority is you let God lead you. The highest priority is that you take his word and believe it, and you let it condition your life. The highest priority is not the lesser things, it is the value you place in the word of God. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Now that's what Jesus replied to the devil, and when at last the 40 days finished and he had not died yet, and the devil came and, you know, said, why don't you, if you are the son of God, turn these stones into bread. Jesus gave a quote of that, those words, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. And he's giving an answer about his temptation directly out of the experience of Moses and the children of Israel, and the reason why they were humbled in the wilderness, and tested so God could see whether or not they would obey and let him lead. And the relevance of all that to Jesus' temptation is that that's the very nature of the temptation, that God looks to see whether we will allow him to do the leading that the whole set up was there for us to follow. So much more the case with Jesus. And his being perfect was not only that he was born innocent, and that's another wrong idea I used to have as a young person, that Jesus was totally innocent, and I got that idea that like an innocent lamb that went bah, and then got its head cut off or whatever happened in the sacrifices, and it was his innocence I used to think that was the most important part of his being the sacrifice for our sins. But it was not innocence alone that made Jesus perfection, it was that he had passed the test, and God the Father had seen that he was willing not to do things off his own back but to rely on the Father, and he didn't know what that meant. Maybe he had no necessary, I think he knew the scriptures that he would go to the cross, but it wasn't like a, how am I trying to say, it was something he had to trust God for. But you know when he did that, he did not turn the stones to bread, but he didn't choose to become independent and use his own power to do whatever he wanted. When Jesus did that, he set himself on the destiny of the cross, where he would die. He qualified to be the sacrifice for our sins. As a consequence of that, that which he has done has achieved our salvation.

Can we go back to our first Hebrews verse that we looked at tonight, this morning? In the days of his flesh, often prayers, suffocation, loud cries and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard. He didn't die in the wilderness any more than he died in the Garden of Gethsemane because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered in the temptations. He learned obedience. So he became qualified as perfect. There's another, I won't, anyway, that's enough for now, from Hebrews. But Jesus, he was tempted as a part of what was necessary for him to be in the position to go to the cross. And he knew all that, but he had to accept as a faith thing that God would save him from dying in a premature moment in the wilderness. Just as I think in the Garden of Gethsemane when he sweat great drops of blood, the sort of tension that produces you doing that is something that can kill you. There are plenty of people who get themselves in a tiz, I mean a bad state of depression and anxiety who then have strokes and die. That's nothing unknown to medical people. But he learned obedience through what he suffered. What he was doing, listen to it, is he was leaving room for God. And because he was trusting God, and he went through the cross, God raised him to life again in the resurrection, in the ascension, took him to heaven, and gave him the name that is above every name.

Let's now go to Philippians chapter 2, the very famous passage about the humility of Christ and how he came to earth. And this verse, let's look down to verse, all right, go down to verse 12, 11 or 12, somewhere there. No, go back up. All right, there we are, as you have it, it's good, verse 6, who though he was in the form of God, did count it a quality with God as something to be hung on to, grasped, is that what that means? But emptied himself, not of his deity, but of the great reputation and role that he had by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, the word form isn't quite what we think it means in English, but taking on that he is in the role and the appearance of a servant, being born in the likeness of men, and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even the death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that the name of Jesus, every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Because he made room for God, the Father in his case, he is raised to the highest position. And in the self-consciousness of Jesus, it needed him to have faith, it needed him not to give in to temptation, to somehow build it all around your ideas. He relied upon his Father, he made room for what has become the greatest exaltation of all of eternity and history. He's been made to be the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. It didn't mean that God took a new name and put it on him, it meant that he took the name that he'd been given at his birth as a human. His birth as a God-man, not just a human, but the God-man. It's the baby Jesus who did go mwah, mwah, mwah, who was someone who took on humanity with all that that meant, who is now Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Why? Because he gave room for God to bring about his purposes. And our salvation has been made possible by Jesus' so doing.

Also, to finish off, that which Jesus exampled is for us to follow. We will follow in his steps. And if you make room for God, how do you apply that? One way you apply it is if something goes wrong and your neighbour is throwing trash over your fence, I'm making up a silly example, you don't go and roar him up. You might find a way to express that you don't really want to have his cans and unused things thrown over the fence. But you do it in a way you seek to that leaves room for God to work in that neighbour. And very often, I remember, I think it was Stuart Briscoe, but one of those travelling preachers, talking about how he led an angry neighbour to Christ. I'm not sure I've got the right preacher. But anyway, the storyline is he had to hold back his indignation at the wrong things the person was doing. And the person was doing it because he knew he was a Christian, was trying to needle him, see if he could get out of some inappropriate reaction. But when no inappropriate reaction came, the fellow then comes to Christ. The

period of time where he'd slam doors and do things to show his annoyance at the Christians turned into him coming to the Lord Jesus. And there are lots of little incidents in our lives. And when you're a bit older, like I am, I'm beginning to realize when I look back, I didn't understand this enough. But if you leave room for God, do you know in Isaiah, it says this is the heritage of the servants of God. Their vindication is from me. And the word in the Hebrew for vindication can have two translations. One is that sometimes is translated as justification, whether you're right or not right. The other is vindication, which is not so much a matter of whether you are right, but whether or not it becomes obvious. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, that their vindication is from me. And we have to learn how to make room for God. Jesus spoke about this principle, when people do things wrong by you, leave it to what God does. Don't take into your hands to somehow make it visible that you were right all the time. Let God vindicate you. And the amount of stories you read in biographies of different Christians, it's very encouraging, actually, you have to learn that lesson.

I praise God for my dad, because something he did, he did it for me. Was along these lines, there was within the Baptist unions of Australia, he was a principal in Perth, and they called him to be the principal of Moreland College at Sydney. So he gave up his principalship in Perth, been there 11 years, took his family over to Sydney. And then the person who was the chairman of the committee said, look, we've decided to put it off for a year. We asked you to do it, and they gave him another little job for a year, because the present principal wanted to go another year. But they had reasons to do that, because they didn't want anybody as conservative in his theology as my dad. And they chose a person who was, in my measures anyway, a bit shonky on the scriptures. And dad then had nowhere to go after the year, so we went to Adelaide. And he became a principal of another Bible college. And in all of that happenings, my dad never told me any bad things about the New South Wales Union. He didn't tell me any bitternesses. And further to that, in Adelaide at various times, there were ups and downs that are pretty much par for the course when you're in Christian work. But he never used to tell me anything like that. Do you know why? He didn't want me to hate the church. And the second reason was, he was giving room for God. Because this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord. Their vindication is from me. Vindication is from me. And if you want God to step in for you, don't take his role. Leave to God to be God. Just as Jesus left the Father to be the one who directed his steps. Those things he sees the Father do, that he does. Those goals that the Father has, he takes them on board. In one of our home groups just recently, we're looking at the woman at the well. One of the things the disciples race off to get food, when they come back, Jesus has already got some food and no one knows where it comes from. And he says, my food is to do the will of him who sent me. That's the purpose. And the temptation was to get deviated from it. And Jesus resisted it. And he had a great reaping with many Samaritans coming to Christ. Leave to God to do his purposes. Make room for God in how you react to things. And he will bring about his purposes.

Let's have a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, I thank you for the temptations of Christ. I had no idea. There were so many rich gems in there. And thinking about the self-consciousness of Jesus, being who he was, and Philippians telling us that he humbled himself, not considering that equality with the Father something to be hung on to or grasped after, but simply let the Father have room to bless him. And that's why the text says, therefore, the Father has, or God has greatly honoured him, raised him up, blessed him, given him a name that's above every name. Help us to follow suit with Jesus. Help us to be aware that the Father has works for us to do. They're his works. And he wants us to let them happen through us. May we take that listen to heart we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.


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