According To Luke: Man vs. Wild

According To Luke: Man vs. Wild

Opening Illustration:
Ask yourself this question this morning, “am I in a wilderness”. Are you? Do you feel that you are living in the wilderness of life right now?  I suppose I should elaborate on what exactly I mean by a personal wilderness.  A “wilderness experience” is usually thought of as a tough time in which a believer endures discomfort and trials. The pleasant things of life are unable to be enjoyed, or they may be absent altogether, and one feels a lack of encouragement. A “wilderness experience” is often a time of intensified temptation and spiritual attack. It can involve a spiritual, financial, or emotional drought.

For the record, a wilderness experience does not have to be bad, or negative. Quite the contrary.  For the Christian, a wilderness period can help us grow deeper.  It can stretch our faith, reveal character, develop integrity and help us grow closer to Christ. 

Sure, no wilderness experience is fun. The wilderness can be a place of thirst and hunger.  It can be a place of searching.  Angela and I love survival shows.  You have probably seen some of these shows on Discovery Channel.  The producers will leave a team in the woods, the jungle or the desert for an extended period of time.  They are often left unprepared and with little to no food.  They are left there for days on end and their task is to simple survive.  At the end of the period, the team returns to normal life much thinner and more exhausted than they ever planned.  They journeyed through the wilderness and survived.  It is always striking to me what these men and woman say at the end of the journey.  One, they always remark how their wilderness experience made them stronger.  They realized that they had something deep inside them that they did not know was there. They will also say that the wilderness experience put on full display their weaknesses.  Perhaps it was a personality conflict they had with their partner.  Maybe they thought they had developed a certain survival skill but when they journeyed into the wilderness, they realized that the skill was severely lacking.  

Friends, that’s what the wilderness does.  It exposes us.  It strips us down of every comfort. The wilderness reveals our weaknesses.  

That’s what we are discussing this morning.  We are going to examine the wilderness that proceeded Christ in Luke 4. 

Let’s start today by filling in these blanks.  

Our Weaknesses Are Revealed In The Wilderness!

Point:
You might be thinking to yourself, “what weakness did Jesus have in the desert, after all, he is God and isn’t it a bit wrong to say that Jesus had any weakness”. 

Friends, that is a great question.  Jesus went into the desert to do something.  Jesus went into the desert to expose something.  That something was His weakness.  Yes, Jesus had a weakness.  His weakness was not His divinity or His divine nature.  No.  His weakness was His flesh.  It was His humanity that He had to conquer.  

Think about it, every temptation that Satan used was a temptation of flesh. 

Satan used bread to tempt Jesus’ fleshly hunger.

Satan used possessions to tempt Jesus fleshy desire for authority.

Satan used fame to tempt Jesus’ flesh to leap of a high cliff. 

Jesus even knew that His flesh was weak.  He says so right in Scripture.  Just read the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was facing His toughest trail, His biggest test.  His divine nature was in conflict with His flesh. 

He warns the disciples in the garden after finding them asleep.  

Matthew 26:40-41 ESV
40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Then again we see Jesus’ weakness of flesh being exposed in the Garden.  

Luke 22:41-42 ESV
41 And he withdrew from them about a stone's throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

Point:
Of course we know the rest of the story.  In the desert and the garden, Jesus conquered His flesh.  This gives us hope.  If Jesus can conquer His flesh thought the Power of God working through Him, then can we not have the same hope of defeating fleshly temptation through the Holy Spirit working in us. 

Transition Point:

Why don’t we start this morning with Scripture.  Let’s read Luke 4:1-13.

Luke 4:1-13 ESV
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. 3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’

11 and “‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.

14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

3 Lessons From The Wilderness

I. The Wilderness Is God’s Course vs. 1-2
Luke 4:1-2 ESV
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.

Point:
Have you ever heard the statement “suffering is life’s greatest teacher”? I have and there is something very true in that statement.  In suffering, in hardship we learn a lot about who we are and the type of people we have become. Remember, Jesus had to experience every part of being human which meant that he had to meet life’s greatest teacher…suffering.  The classroom was the wilderness.  

Just like I drop  off my kids to go to school, it appears that God’s Holy Spirit delivered Jesus to the classroom.  By the way, wilderness in Jesus’ context was a pretty terrible place.  The Greek word for wilderness is erémos, pronounced er'-ay-mos (ἔρημος).  Jesus went to a deserted, desolate place, a place of waste, and a place of abandonment.  The word means a barren place and a solitary place.  It was a place of complete and utter solitude with no one person available to talk to or speak with.  Jesus is now, perhaps for the first time, completely devoid of human interaction.  All He has is His thoughts, His relationship with His Father and apparently the Devil. 

That’s the way it feels doesn’t it?  When you are in your wilderness you feel alone.  No one to talk to but yourself and God.  Isn’t it interesting that we, like Jesus, can feel God’s presence and Satan’s presence in those moments.  

Point:
Friends, Jesus had to go through it.  The only way He could conquer His flesh is for God to test the flesh.  The only way that Jesus could achieve the strength necessary to carry out His mission was to have dominion over the weakness of His flesh. 

Point:
Make no mistake, God will absolutely lead you into the wilderness for a purpose.  You will be guided by the Holy Spirit to the lowly and desolate places of life so that you can grow, learn and develop.  However, you need to realize that as God’s Presence is there to lead you, Satan’s presence is there to distract you and tear you down.  

Point:
Maybe you are in the wilderness today. Let me give you a key component to the place that you have found.  Wilderness is temporary.  For Jesus, it lasted 40 days.  For you, it may be longer or shorter.  However, it will not last forever.  It is only temporary.  God will often keep us in the wilderness long enough to see our weakness exposed and our Spirit strengthened.  So, if you feel that you are in the wild this morning, don’t resist it, embrace it.  This means that God is growing you and you have a lesson to learn.  You have growth to achieve.  It means that God is not done with you yet.  

Illustration:
Many of you have seen the movie “Facing the Giants”.  You have probably all seen the scene with the young man who is instructed to carry on all fours one of his teammates on his back from the goalie to the 50 yard line.  He is convinced that he is to weak to do it but the coach continually cheers him on.  As he is carrying his teammate, the pain sets in.  He is winded and his lungs are screaming to stop. At the end of the scene, with the coach’s encouragement, the young man didn’t just pass the 50 yard line, he carried his teammate on all fours on his back to the other end of the field, 100 yards.  You see, it is in the struggle where we acknowledge our weaknesses and blaze a trail for strength.  

Romans 8:6 ESV
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

3 Lessons From The Wilderness

I. The Wilderness Is God’s Course vs. 1-2
II. The Wilderness Is The Devil’s Chance vs. 3-8
Luke 4:3-8 ESV
The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4 And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” 5 And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, 6 and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

Illustration:
A woman bought a extravagant dress, and the husband asked why did it have to be so extravagant, She said the devil made me buy it, The husband asked, why didn’t you say get behind me Satan?, The woman said, I did and said it looked as good in the front as it did in the back, so I bought it!

Point:
That Devil is a real trickster.  Now in a couple of weeks we will look more at the angel of temptation but I really want to focus on this entity known as the Devil.  The Devil is someone not to be feared, because we are God’s children, but his power and knowledge should be respected. The Devil is not God.  He does not have God’s power and never will.  However, the Devil is cunning.  He knows humanity and knows our weakness. 

God uses the wilderness to grow us, but the Devil uses the wilderness to destroy us.  That’s what makes the wilderness so dangerous.  God brings us there to expose the areas of our life but in doing so, we are also exposed to the attacks of the Devil. 

Point:
At every attack of Satan to Jesus, he attacked Jesus’ flesh.  Hunger.  Fame. Glory. Possessions.  These are fleshly desires that we still have today.  Satan tries to get Jesus to fall into the trap.  Friends, if Satan is that bold with Jesus, don’t you think that he will engage us in the same manner?  Of course he will.  Satan knows your weakness.  Satan knows what motivates you, what drives you, what gets you going and he is not afraid of pulling out all the stops to get you to move into his will rather than God’s will.  

Point:
Just look at the lengths that Satan goes to.  He tells a starving Jesus to turn stones into bread.  Now we have never really known hunger.  Not really.  However, after not eating for 40 days, can you imagine the immense desire in Jesus’ flesh to eat.  

Next, Satan somehow reveals all the kingdoms of the world.  Now that must have been a fancy trick.  Imagine the wealth.  Imagine all the material possessions.  

Then Satan tells Jesus to reveal Himself as the all powerful God.  Let these people see you for who you really are.  Embrace the fame of being God. Again, fame, power, glory, stuff, all fleshly desires.  These are the same tricks that Satan does to us each and everyday.  

Point:
Oh friend, respect the Devil.  He is cunning and crafty.  

Quote:
"There is no neutral ground in the universe; every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan."

C.S. Lewis

Ephesians 4:27 ESV
Give no opportunity to the devil.

3 Lessons From The Wilderness

I. The Wilderness Is God’s Course vs. 1-2
II. The Wilderness Is The Devil’s Chance vs. 3-8
III. The Wilderness Is Ministry’s Commencement vs. 13-15
Luke 4:13-14 ESV
13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. 15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.

Point:
There are lots of lessons to learn from the wilderness.  

1. God leads us there to develop our character and to grow our dependance on Him.
2. Satan will often attack us there in hopes of damaging us or discrediting us. 

Here is another lesson.  Once our season in the wilderness comes to a conclusion, God often uses it to serve as a launching pad for ministry.  

Remember this point, the wilderness will develop our character and solidify our call.  it is true in the Bible and it is true in today’s world.  

Notice that Jesus travels into the wild, does battle with Satan, and comes out stronger with a clarified mission.  

Remember two weeks ago we talked about Baptism.  Baptism is a beautiful symbol but it is also a spiritual target.  When I was baptized, the pastor told me that after the dove comes the desert.  When we step into the waters of baptism, we tell Satan that we are ready for ministry.  When we are ready for ministry, we are ready for battle.  

Point:
Know today that God is preparing you for great things, momentous things, in the wilderness.  He will not waste your pain.  He will not misuse your suffering.  He will teach you in the dark places so that you can have a ministry.  

One of my favorite verses to people who are hurting and wondering why God has placed them in the wild comes from Paul in II Corinthians 1:3-7.

II Corinthians 1:3-7 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too. 6 If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. 7 Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

Point:
Here we have a greeting to the Corinthian church.  Like most churches at the time, life for the Corinthians was difficult.  Chances are they were wondering why life was so difficult and hard.  Paul informs them that suffering has become their teacher.  Their classroom was their community and their goal was ministry.  Paul essentially tells them, “listen your hurting so that one day you will understand what real hurt is and that you might have the ability to comfort other who are hurting.” 

Friend, you wilderness is going to be God’s launching pad for future ministry.  Don’t push away from it or bemoan it, embrace it.  Remember God has big plans for your pain.  

Romans 8:18 ESV
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.


Turn Your Wilderness Into God’s Witness!

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