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Stones, Temples and Thrones.png

Sermon Notes

Key Text 

  • Matt 4:1-11

Synoptic Parallels 

  • Mark 1:12

  • Luke 4:1-13

The Roman Son of God

  • After his assassination in 42 BC, Julius Caesar was deified and so honored as "the divine Julius." His adopted son Octavian thus became known as “son of the divine Julius” or simply “son of the god”. His name was later changed to Augustus Cesar. 

  • Augustus Cesar was the emperor at the time of Jesus' birth (Luke 2:1).

  • Britannica Encyclopedia “he overhauled every aspect of Roman life and brought durable peace and prosperity to the Greco-Roman world."

  • Read more about Augustus Cesar.  

  • "Official Roman policy held that Cesar Augustus was begotten of the gods, sent to the people as a gift to restore ‘peace’, to ‘save’ the people, and to ‘bring good news.’”—Enns, Peter. The Bible Tells Me So p.213, 84

The Jewish Son of God

  • ‘Son of God’ was the royal title given to the King of Israel.

  • God's covenant with David when establishing his kingdom uses adoption language: “I will be his father, and he will be my son.” (2 Sam 7:14). God would adopt the kings of Israel as his own, thus the kings of Israel were "Sons of God" (Ps 2:7, Ps 89:26-27). 

Power of Temptation 

  • Matt 4:3 and 4:6 is the first occurrence of the titled 'son of God' in reference to Jesus. And it is spoken by the devil. 

  • In the first temptation, satan tempts Jesus to use his power, not food.  By calling him 'son of God' satan is tempting him to act on the title. A son of God would not be starving in the wilderness, be unknown in the temple, or have no kingdom. 

  • The Pharisees, scoffers passing by, and criminals all called Jesus 'Son of God' to mock him. 

    • Matt 27:40: ​“Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!”

    • Matt 27:42-44: “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 Even the revolutionaries who were crucified with him ridiculed him in the same way.

  • Jesus does not give in because he has nothing to prove to satan. 

  • The third temptation satan changes his strategy because he has proven that Jesus had no power. For the third temptation, satan offers to give him power.  

  • Jesus does not desire what men desire: empire, power and control. 

Why Temp With Power?

  • The temptation of Jesus was about power because power would save him from the cross. 

Bobby Gross Quote 

He attempts to dissuade Jesus from a path of self-denial, humility, and powerlessness. The temptations grow most acute near the end of the forty days when he is most vulnerable: 

"Why suffer? Turn these stones to bread and satisfy yourself. In the same way, you could feed the hungry poor!" 

"Why stay hidden? Leap from this temple and promote yourself, for surely the angels will save you. You could prove your divine favor and win the people!" 

"Why renounce wealth and power? Bow to me in this moment and exalt yourself. As ruler of the world, you could bring liberty and justice for all!" 

Physical comfort. Public acclaim. Political power. If he is indeed the Son of God, why not exempt himself from suffering or exercise his prerogatives or claim his rightful position? But these would have been the right things gained by the wrong means... godlikeness apart from God. But unlike Eve and Adam, Jesus says no to the tempter and yes to the Father. No to self, yes to sacrifice. No to doubt, yes to faith. No to empires, yes to God's kingdom. No to idolatry, yes to obedience.—Gross, Bobby. Living the Christian Year, p.132

Satan continued to tempt Jesus with power even after the desert. Looking for a more "opportune time" (Luke 4:13)


“His disciples urge him to seize the moment when the people clamor for him in Capernaum, but Jesus chooses to go elsewhere. The religious leaders accuse him of law-breaking and blasphemy, but Jesus refuses to conform in order to gain their approval. His family thinks he's out of his mind, but Jesus ignores their concern and redefines "family." The Pharisees ask for a public sign, but Jesus declines. The disciples desire to sit on thrones, but Jesus speaks of greatness through service. After miraculously eating, the people want to make him king, but Jesus withdraws to a mountain. And his most promising disciple, after an enlightened declaration of faith, quickly becomes the voice of Satan; Jesus issues a stinging rebuke.

Jesus says no to every voice that diverts him from the path that God has chosen for him. And that path leads to Gethsemane and Golgotha."

—Gross, Bobby. Living the Christian Year, p.133

Knowing the Path 

  • Jesus knows the path he must take. He must say no to himself and yes to God. He must say no to power, and yes to weakness

    • NOTE: The Apostle Paul teaches us that we need to have an alternative view of weakness as virtue. Paul declares, “For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength” (1 Cor 1:25). Dr. Yung Suk Kim says, “Obviously, Paul means not that God is weak and foolish in common literal sense, but that people think God is foolish and weak because God does not subscribe to the dominant wisdom and culture, in which the strong and the rich are served at the sacrifice of the weak. Christ crucified is “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:23).—Kim, Yung Suk. Messiah in Weakness: A Portrait of Jesus from the Perspective of the Dispossessed. Kindle Location 2600

  • Jesus says that all believers must deny themselves, pick up their crosses, and follow him (Matthew 16:24-26). Satan will always tempt us with what prevents us from traveling the Via Dolorosa which ultimately leads to Golgotha. For Jesus, it was power, because he was God incarnate. For us, it can also be power but it can also be vice. ​

MAIN LESSON: The power and victory of Christ came from his complete submission and obedience to the Father. His power comes in his ability to say no to himself and yes to God.

MAIN APPLICATION: As Christians, we can only have power and victory when we are in complete submission and obedience to God. We must say no to self and yes to God. Submit to God and the devil will flee from you. 

  • Philippians 2:8: “ And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

  • Hebrews 12:2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

  • James 4:7: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."

Blessing: May you submit to God, that you may have victory over your temptations.

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