Sermon Synopsis Scripture Passage Luke 4:1-13

I’m not the person that I thought I was…

For Christmas I received an autosomal DNA test from Family Tree DNA.
The results of my test came in and debunked much of the oral history passed down in my family for decades. My biological father (yes I have a few so I need to differentiate) always told us that we had Native American ancestry. I took some pride in this belief even if it turned out to be a fraction. I was looking forward to discovering which tribe I would align myself with and beginning the journey to my “roots.”

Nope… Nada… Not a speck…

Apparently my genetic code leans more heavily towards lederhosen and yodeling than moccasins and drumming. My genetic makeup is mostly Swiss with traces from the surrounding European countries including the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), an even smaller percentage from Finland and northern Siberia and Portugal and southern Europe. Isn’t it amazing how myth compares with reality?

The Jesus presented in our text bears little resemblance to the myth of the Messiah that God’s people
were waiting to meet. Arguably this is still true for the church today.

The Jesus of our gospel is tempted to turn stones (the gospel of Matthew uses the plural) into bread.
This will surely prove to everyone that he is the Son of God! The Messiah that Satan describes is the Christ of those who follow the “prosperity gospel.” If we just trust enough… if we just believe enough… if we just “GIVE” enough… we will be rewarded with whatever we desire. This Jesus is a golden calf that we sacrifice to in order to enrich ourselves. Remember when Jesus fed thousands with a few loaves of bread and a couple fish? He had to send his disciples into the boats and went up into the hills alone because the people wanted to take him by force to make him their king. What better messiah than one who miraculously feeds us? Jesus rejects this prosperity gospel.

Next Jesus is offered all of the political power of the world. Satan states (and Jesus does not dispute) that the world belongs to him and he can give it to whomever he chooses… if only Jesus would worship him. I can think of no better example of politics today than this text; everyone working to enrich themselves on the backs and bodies of others. The true kingship of Christ is made manifest not by the church of his day, but by Pilate who placed above the head of Jesus on the cross a sign reading “The King of the Jews.” Jesus displayed his kingship by being willing to suffer for the good of others. If only we would measure our politicians today by their altruism rather than their arrogance.

The final temptation was the challenge for Jesus to leap from the tallest tower of the temple in Jerusalem and believe (Satan quotes the scriptures) angels would not allow his harm. In contrast I am reminded of Jesus telling Peter in the garden to put away his sword for if Jesus wished he could call over 70,000 angels to prevent his arrest. Peter could not understand how his messiah would not destroy the foreign oppressors. I wonder how many Christians quote scripture today to justify their fear and bigotry all the while ignoring Jesus’ example of self sacrifice for strangers.

The messiah myth is a selfish attempt to justify our own desire for possessions and power and the assurance that God loves us more than (or rather than) those outside our particular denomination. We use Jesus as a political argument to support our own biased views.

The messiah reality shown in the gospel is the living example of God’s love for us despite ourselves. It is an invitation for us to follow Jesus’ example and accept and welcome others as he has accepted us with all our imperfections and brokenness. This is the messiah that I proclaim.