The Irrelevance of The Christian Faith in the Fourth Temptation, or---

The Upside-Down Kingdom (Matthew 4. 1-11)

 

“Hardly anyone ever criticizes Jesus; or obeys Him.” Jesus has called his people beyond kindness to Kingdom Service. John heralds a new kingdom in Luke 3.4-6. He uses four images to describe the coming kingdom: (1) Filled Valleys, (2) Leveled Mountains, (3) Straightened Curves, and (4) Smoothed Bumps. These suggest a radial shake-up rather than rhetorical avoidance of the hindering structures of this world. The kingdom brings shocks to five types of people: All those on top of social pyramids, i.e., (a) proud, (b) rich, © mighty; and these are replaced by the (d) poor and (e) the hungry (Luke 1.48). The coming of Christ is truly a relational revolution where God’s reign becomes visible. Our greatest temptation is to make our faith merely private. The Fourth Temptation is to remove the relevance and daily influence of our faith in Christ (read Hebrews 11).

A. Cultural Detours: Faith to Move Mountains

 

1. Sociological/Psychological reasons for belonging to The Church.

2. Nature of the presence of the Kingdom of God.

3. Relationship between Evangelism and ‘Social Action, (there is no such thing as a “private Christian        existence.”

 

B. Jesus’ Temptations Confronted the “Institutionalized Structures” of the Jewish World: Dt. 6.13, 16; 8.6; Ps. 91.11,12

 

1. Great High Mountain - ‘Political Structures’ (Dt. 6.13).

2. Pinnacle of the Temple - ‘Religious Structures’ (Ps. 91.11,12)

3. Bread - ‘Economic Structures’ (Dt. 8.3).

 

Social institutions do not necessarily refer per se to people or organizations. They are established patterns of social behavior, which organize the daily lives of a particular segment of society. The Kingdom of Christ calls for a paradigmatic revolution regarding all social structures and their respective reinforcing institutions. Satan tempted Jesus as he does us--to embrace institutionalized Political Structures, Economic Structures, and Religious Structures.

 

Fourth Temptation as a Test of Who We Are: (a) Positive; (b) Negative; (c) Disobedience and personal security; (d) Testing intensity of commitment to God’s purpose

 

Fourth Temptation as a Test of Whose We Are:

 

(a) Power to Servitude (power to do things for people can also be power to do things to people).

(b) Greatness (reveals our values) cf. To Serfdom (idolatrous absolutes--success and possessions)

(c) Visibility of our faith in Christ as Lord in an audibility/visibility society.

 

 

 

Fourth Temptation and What We Are For: (Malcolm Muggeridge, Christ and The Media, 1978).

 

(a) Service and Obedience - “Whatsoever you do in word and deed, you do to the glory of Christ”

(b) Glory and Visibility of His Presence. Be ready at all times to give a reasoned defense for our hope (I Pet. 3.15) so men will believe our message. So live at all times so they will believe us.

(c) Kingdom as a Growth Industry--but not on the terms of human structures.

 

Conclusion: Faith without the Word and Works is dead.

 

JDS