Lectionary Year A
February 17, 2002

Matthew 4:1-11
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) A sermon from this story might encourage and enable parishioners to view temptation in a manageable light, as Jesus seems to have done.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) Any congregation struggling with social, political and/or spiritual temptations could benefit from these truths.

C. Contemporary Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "Script For Life"

Producers of a documentary for television are hard at work with the screen-writers to compose dialogue true to the Matthew 4:1-11 story. They want to make it germane for contemporary viewers. They examine the two principal players and seek to write their parts responsibly. They realize the tension between good an evil this story personifies.

I. What Jesus Does

A. The producers and writers find Jesus, first, conversing with Satan. This dynamic might seem strange to us, but it appears common to our Lord. Remember, He ate with every mode of sinners, etc. His example might lead us to prefer to negotiate with even Osama bin Laden rather than retaliate, get revenge and/or retribution.

B. Jesus relies on Scripture, refusing to compromise. In James 1:13f, we discover God never authors temptation, but let's us get into it to teach us a lesson or more. We need that. Scripture also calls us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. It pictures Jesus even associating with the Devil, and even with the likes of you and me. Jesus knew all sorts of people need greater chances to reform, to learn, to try new ways to live. Jesus also preached "Blessed are the peacemakers, they shall be called God's own."

II. What the Devil/Evil Does

A. Satan makes claims . . . Genesis 3:1-19 tells of humans' "temptation to be as God, rebelling against God's commandments and transgressing them . . . such testing (from and by the serpent not God) is a religious formula for the dialectical opposition between good and evil . . ." says Kittel in TDNT. We live in that dialectic, do we not? Good seems to struggle with evil every day we live.

B. The Devil/Evil tests us, though God always and still controls evil (Amos 3:5f). That realization is good news when we realize how much evil this world has in it. President Bush's State of the Union Address referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as "make up an axis of evil". Since then, he has said the channels of communication/negotiation are still open with those countries. Many corporate entities can seem evil, even you and I have some frightful tendencies once in a while.

III. Believers' Response

A. These Producers want you, yes, you, to take a role in their production. Which one are you prepared by experiences in life to play as type casting? Let's try to play the part of our Lord, the one God calls us to model our lives after, Jesus, our Savior. He is the word of God by whom we live, rather than by bread alone. God's Word nourishes us totally.

B. So, you get the script. You recognize it. It comes from the Bible. It tells you to forgive those who hate, to pray for enemies rather than to be vengeful. With God's help, you can do this part. You see how Jesus did it. He relied on scripture to describe and define His mission in human life. That's where we live our lives as well as how we live.

Our script for life comes from God's Word. We try to live life in front of the spotlights, behind them, when they're on and when they are off, in natural light and artificial light and in the dark, as well, following God's Word.

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