What’s on the Menu? – July 19, 2015

“What’s on the Menu?

Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7       Matthew 4:1-11  


          I would understand if you thought today’s

message was about food.  A menu is

usually the first thing you’re given when you go to a restaurant.  Adam and Eve dealt with fruit from a

tree.  Jesus was tempted to turn stones

into bread. 

It’s not…about food


It’s about what you do when you’re given the

menu…about making decisions.  We could

make this short and simple by saying Adam and Eve blew it and Jesus

didn’t.  But…let’s think about

decision-making for a few minutes. 

Jesus…often called the “Second Adam”…was the

Son of God.  He was God in the

flesh.  He had all the powers that God

could have. 

But…Jesus came to us fully human…so that from

Him we could learn how to follow God’s Word…and that it was possible to follow

God’s Word even in this world in which we live. 

The word that many Bibles translate as

“tempted” is perhaps better translated as “tested”.  Jesus was “tested” by the Devil after being

taken by the Spirit to the wilderness for that very purpose…to be tested.  It happens to us, also.  It happens to us in the very ways it happened

to Jesus. 

First…Jesus was tempted to turn the stones into

bread.  It was a temptation to Jesus to

use his powers selfishly.  We have the

same test.  God has given each of us

unique powers…talents…abilities.  We can

ask either of two questions. 

“What can I make for myself out of this gift?”


“What can I do for others with this gift?”


A person may have a beautiful voice which is

very pleasant to the ear.  That person

may want to “cash in” on it.  That person

may refuse to use it unless receiving pay for it.  There is no reason why he should not use it

for pay, but there is every reason why he should not use it only for pay.  There are many highly paid vocalists in this

nation.  Some perform at no charge to

benefit others. 

What is your gift…or gifts?  Each of us has gifts and talents.  How are you using them?


Secondly the tester took Jesus to view the top

of the temple.  He asked Jesus to jump

because he and Jesus knew from Scripture that God’s angels would catch him and

gently and safely place Jesus on the ground.

In fact, there were those that believed the prophet Malachi had promised

that the Messiah would suddenly appear at the Temple. 

Jesus refused.


First…it would have been an example of using

God’s power to create a sensation and win people over through the

spectacle.  That’s not the kind of Gospel

that God gave Jesus to spread. 

Jesus repeated the words that Moses is credited

with writing in Deuteronomy.  “Don’t put

the Lord your God to the test.”  There is

nothing good that can come from seeing how far you can go by deliberately

putting yourself in a threatening situation then expecting God to rescue you. 

My guess is that most of us here today have

matured past that youthful stage where we often said “Hey y’all!  Watch this!”

But, have we entirely moved out of the mode of taking unnecessary

risks…expecting God to bail us out?  What

dietary choices are we making?  Exercise

choices?  Health care choices?  Financial choices? 

If faith cannot believe without sensations or

rescues from unnecessary risks then it is not really faith.  It is doubt looking for proof…looking in the

wrong places.  God’s rescuing power is

not something to be played with and experimented with.  It is something to be quietly trusted in

everyday life. 

The third attempt of the Tempter was a

whopper.  He offered Jesus the whole world

and all that was in it.  All Jesus had to

do was worship him…not God.  The Tempter

was saying compromise…make a deal with me.

Don’t have such high standards.

Work with me on this one, Jesus. 

Jesus’ response showed that he was quite

certain that we can never defeat evil by compromising with evil.  Christianity cannot stoop to the level of the

world.  It must lift the world to its

level.  Nothing less will do.  We compromise with evil when we do nothing

about it. 

Jesus gave us the example….what to do when

temptation…testing…come our way.  One

commentator puts it this way.  “Resist

the devil in the power of the Sprit through the guidance of the Word to

accomplish the will of God.” 

Let’s break that statement down into some

smaller chunks. 

Resist the devil.  Jesus clearly resisted.  His brother…James…and the apostle Peter…saw

up close how Jesus was confronted by evil.

James wrote “Submit yourselves…to God.

Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  (James 4:7)

Peter wrote “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion

looking for someone to devour.  Resist

him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout

the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”  (1 Peter 5:8-9)  When the temptation is in front of you…just say


In the power of the Spirit of God.  It’s not our own strength or cunning that

will get the job done.  Just as Jesus was

guided and empowered by the Holy Spirit…so must we be.  Just as Jesus was never alone…so we have a

companion…a source of power and strength.

In our temptations we might be led to believe that God is not

around.  In his letter to the Romans Paul

made it clear that for all of those who belong to Christ the Spirit is there

even in the darkest moments. 

Through the guidance of the Word of God.  The best way to overcome the temptation to go

against the Word of God is to know the Word of God.  We have been given the Bible to show us the

truth of life.  Compare the words of

Jesus to the words of the world.  Then,

you’ll know how to discern and confront the lies.  You’ll know how to follow God’s will.  The devil knew the Scripture well when he

tempted Jesus.  Does he know them better

than you?  How often and how deeply do you

study the Bible? 

To accomplish the will of God the Father.  If we truly know God’s Word we will be able

to discern…to figure out His will for us.

After all…our goal is to hear “Well done, good and faithful


The instruction from the Psalmist is most

appropriate here.  “Delight yourself in

the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)  Loving God…delighting in God…could be the

most important guideline for all of the decisions of our life…big and

small.   If we truly love God we will not

do anything contrary to His Word and His will for us.  And…when we delight in our walk with God…we

are freed to pursue our own desires and dreams…because they will be God’s

desires and dreams. 

Here’s a real life…real world…example for all

of us today…of the tempter at work.  How

will you decide? 

I have two friends who have written a play

about the lynching of Willie Earle in 1947.

He was a young black man held in the Pickens County Jail…waiting for

further legal action.  He had been

accused…accused, not convicted of robbing and murdering a white man who drove a

cab in Greenville. I had the privilege of attending a reading of the play.


As I sat there…listening to the script being

read by a number of performers I asked how could a Christian community tolerate

the lynching of a young man…accused of a crime and in jail awaiting further

legal action. 

I then reflected on our community…state…

nation…and world today…68 years later.

Some say hate and intolerance is greater today.  Some say otherwise.  No matter how you want to measure…or what

your measure might show…the reality is…hate and intolerance are still

there.  It’s the cause of much of what is

reported as news.  It’s the topic of many

conversations…on Facebook and in the coffee shops. 

And…the hate and intolerance are not just based

on race…it’s gender…it’s citizenship…it’s gender preference…it’s perceived

faith beliefs…it’s economic status.

All are excuses for hate and intolerance. 

As you decide how to participate in these great

debates turn to Scripture…and look for the verse in which Jesus tells us to

care for the least among us.  You’ll find

it several times in more than one Gospel.

Then look for the verse in which Jesus places qualifications on that

caring.  You won’t find any qualifiers…exceptions…or

excuses…none of those I just mentioned and no others. 

As you decide whether to join those who speak

and act of hate and intolerance and anger…look further at the Sermon on the

Mount…chapters five through seven of Matthew…and Jesus’ instructions for those

who want to call themselves Christians.

Nowhere will you find instruction promoting anything other than love and

inclusiveness.  The tools of hate and

intolerance…and twisting Scripture to support hate and intolerance are tools of

the devil and those who would follow him.

They are not tools of Christ and those who would follow him…even if

those tools are used against us. 

No matter what’s on the menu we can rest

assured of the proper decision when “we resist the devil in the power of the

Spirit through the guidance of the Word to accomplish the will of God?”