The Temptation to be Spectacular

Scripture Reading
Luke 4:9-13

The devil led Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’
Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”
When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Jesus, after being baptized in the Jordan, was led by the Spirit into the desert. It was there that Jesus was to stay for forty days and be temped by the devil. Luke tells us that Jesus did not eat during those forty days and at the end of those forty days he was hungry. So the first temptation that the devil gives Jesus is to turn a stone into bread. Jesus is hungry and the temptation to turn that stone into bread would seem like a difficult temptation to turn away from. Jesus quotes scripture to his tempter and refuses to succumb to temptation.

The devil then tempts Jesus by telling him that he will give him all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will worship him. And to that enticement Jesus replies, “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.”

The last temptation was for Jesus to throw himself down from the highest point of the temple. Jesus refused to test God’s faithfulness by again quoting scripture to the evil one. The devil was tempting Jesus to do something that would attract a lot of public attention in a very dramatic way. I believe that one of our greatest temptations in the church today, is the temptation to attract attention to ourselves instead of giving it to God.

Henri Nouwen in his book, In the Name of Jesus, calls this the temptation to be spectacular. This type of temptation causes the individual to attract attention to themselves in order to draw praise and applause from their audience. Nouwen says that “stardom and individual heroism, which are such obvious aspects of our competitive society, are not at all alien to the church. There too the dominant image is that of the self-made man or woman who can do it all alone.”

The evil one is hard at work tempting us in the worldwide church today. We desire to be noticed, praised, and respected for our good works and deeds. It is a desire to be relevant and to accomplish things on our own. Jesus rejected this temptation and as followers of Christ we must reject this temptation also.

Nouwen writes that, “in today’s church, it is easy to see the prevalence of individualism among ministers and priests.” That would also apply to not only our ministers but our Sunday school teachers, committee leaders, deacons, etc. We believe that we should be able to do everything well and that it can best be done on our own. We feel that we alone can write inspiring sermons, have standing room only in our Sunday school classes, and lead committees and deacon boards to accomplish great things. This is the temptation to be spectacular, to go our own away.

Jesus did not come to this earth in order to exercise his divine power. Jesus emptied himself and he became like us. As followers of Jesus we are called to share with others the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to give all honor, glory and praise to God: our creator, redeemer, and sustainer.

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