Monday, February 26, 2007

Son Of Adam, Son of God

First Sunday in Lent
Sunday, February 25, 2007
Luke 4:1-13

What do you think Joseph was like? We don’t know a lot about him. We know He was called by God for a most unusual task. To be the guardian, the father even, of the Savior of the world. We know he risked his very own life to protect his wife and the young child she bore and gave birth to. We know after all these remarkable events occurred he made his living as a carpenter in a small town in a region above Judea.

There is another thing we know of him and that is because he is every bit like us in that he was born of a woman. That means he was a sinful man. He believed in the God of the Israelites, the One who sent the Messiah, the Savior of the world. But he was a sinner nonetheless. Though called to a unique task, he was by no means unique as a person. He was a man, and that meant he needed a Savior.

Luke tells us that Jesus was his son. And that’s true. But He wasn’t only the son of Joseph, He was the son of a line of men who preceded Him. We’re all the product to a certain degree of those in our lineage. If you go back far enough your lineage takes you back to the first man, Adam. And that’s exactly what Luke shows with Jesus’ genealogy: He was the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat, etc., all the way back to Adam. Jesus, the son of Adam.

But how was it that this particular lineage produced a man born of a woman that was as they were in every respect but without sin? The Bible tells us that also. Though He was the product of a female womb, it was a virgin womb, not of the union with a man. Mary became pregnant by the Holy Spirit, not Joseph. So Jesus, though the son of Adam like you and I are, is also the Son of God.

It’s much more remarkable what Jesus went through as the Son of God than as the Son of Adam. We expect difficulties. Trials, tribulations, hardships. We’re human. We live in a fallen world. We are fallible creatures. We’re going to have slips and slides in our lives. Nothing surprising here. Jesus was a man, too. It’s only sensible that He went through those things.

But the Son of God? The one of whom His Heavenly Father said: “You are My beloved Son; with You I am well pleased.” Oh yeah? How beloved was He really, when immediately upon being Baptized, anointed by His dear Heavenly Father, He was sent into the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted for forty days by Satan without food? That’s an odd way to show Your only-begotten Son Your love for Him. I don’t imagine Joseph ever remotely considered doing anything like that to his son, long hours in the wood shop notwithstanding.

The suffering of Christ did not involve only eighteen hours between the Garden of Gethsemane and His death on the cross. Three years before His crucifixion the assault began in the trial in the desert. If you think what the chief priests or the Roman soldiers brought on was excruciating, you haven’t seen anything yet. He suffered beyond what I can imagine physically, but I’m a wimp when it comes to pain anyway. Jesus did not come here to receive a few scourgings and some nails in His hands and feet.

He came to take our punishment upon Himself. Our punishment for our sins is not physical, although there is certainly torment involved in being in hell for eternity. Our punishment is spiritual. It’s being banished from God forever. What Jesus came to do was to be the recipient of that. What Satan wants to do to you and me—tear us away from God and His care of us—He attempted to do to Jesus.

He pulled out all the stops. For three years Satan assaulted Jesus. It culminated in the cross. If we wish to know what God thinks of us we can look to His Son. The Son of God was led by the Father into the desert in order to take the hit from Satan. In His eternal grace and love God calls us His sons because of His Son who remained faithful in the face of temptation even as we often fail.

Satan’s challenge to Jesus was: “If You are the Son of God.” But what did he tempt Jesus with? Food. Jesus was hungry. God doesn’t get hungry. He doesn’t need food; He doesn’t need anything. But God became a man. The son of Adam out there in the desert was hungry. He was in need. Satan simply told Him what He already knew: He was God and could alleviate His discomfort easily.

But the Son of God was not deterred: “Man does not live by bread alone.” What he lives by is the Word of God. That’s why Jesus quoted the Word of God. As men, we often revert to our base instincts, like our need for food. That’s good as far as it goes, it’ll keep us alive. But we live by faith; the Word of God is our sustenance for our souls.

Does it strike you as odd that Satan’s next temptation was in offering the kingdoms of the world? He had just as much acknowledged that Jesus is God. Why would the devil think that Jesus would be interested in the kingdoms of the world when He is the Lord of the Universe? Because Satan knew that Jesus had chosen to become a son of Adam. A mere man. We humans are prone to wanting more. Prone to wondering if God is holding out on us. Isn’t that where Adam and Eve fell into sin?

But Jesus once again shows the devil where true glory is to be found. It is in the worship of the one true God, not in the amassing of wealth. Jesus put His money where His mouth is and once again quoted the Word of God. It is indeed by the Word of God that we live, not anything Satan might hold before us.

Okay, so let’s live that way you say, Jesus. Satan was catching on so attempted to get Jesus to “take God at His Word”. It was a feeble attempt, of course. But Satan operates that way. He deceives. He takes the Word of God and twists it to suit his own purpose, which is always to put doubt in our minds about God.

So take Him at His Word! He says He will guard you, give Him an opportunity to do it, since You trust in Him completely.

It’s not hard to guess how Jesus responded this third and final time—with the Holy Word of God. Yes, trust in God should be complete, but that also means you should never put Him to the test.

You know what? We would know this if we’d follow Jesus’ lead. Get into the Word of God. Know it. Learn it. Take it to heart. Inwardly digest it.

But we don’t. We use the Bible the way the devil does, to suit our own needs. The Word of God is living and active. It is a double-edged sword. It cuts away the feebleness of our sinful nature. But it is a soothing balm which heals us.

Because we are sons of Adam, we are done for, as it would appear that Jesus was in the desert. But as sons of God we are a new creation. We are clothed with Christ. We are given protection from the evil one and promised not all the kingdoms of the world but the Kingdom of Heaven. We’re in the line of Joseph and Adam. But we have been given a new lineage: we are sons and daughters of the King and Savior, the Son of God Himself. Amen.


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