Worship Service – March 6, 2022

“Easter’s Grace”
Scripture; Luke 4:1-13, Romans 10: 8b-13, Hebrews 4:14-16
Message; “Grace under Pressure”

Luke 4:1-13

The Temptation of Jesus

(1) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, (2) where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.
(3) The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
(4) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ “
(5) The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. (6) And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. (7) So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”
(8) Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ “
(9) The devil led him 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. (10) For it is written: ” ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; (11) they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ “
(12) Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ “
(13) When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Romans 10:8b-13

(8b) “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: (9) That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (10) For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (11) As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” (12) For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile– the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, (13) for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”



(14)Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. (15) “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. (16) Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

A local sheriff was looking for a deputy, and one of the applicants – who was not known to be the brightest academically, was called in for an interview. “Okay,” began the sheriff, “What is 1 and 1?” “Eleven,” came the reply. The sheriff thought to himself, “That’s not what I meant, but he’s right.”
Then the sheriff asked, “What two days of the week start with the letter ‘T’?” “Today & tomorrow.” Replied the applicant. The sheriff was again surprised over the answer, one that he had never thought of himself.
“Now, listen carefully, who killed Abraham Lincoln?”, asked the sheriff. The job seeker seemed a little surprised, then thought really hard for a minute and finally admitted, “I don’t know.” The sheriff replied, “Well, why don’t you go home and work on that one for a while?” The applicant left and wandered over to his pals who were waiting to hear the results of the interview. He greeted them with a cheery smile, “The job is mine! The interview went great! First day on the job and I’m already working on a murder case!”
In our Gospel reading today in Luke 4 it’s Jesus’ first day on the job. Immediately he is confronted with three major temptations. And he is confronted with this basic question: Would he accept his fathers, grace under pressure? Hence the title of my message today. “Grace under Pressure”
Today is “Temptation Sunday.” Every year on the first Sunday in Lent we focus our attention on the story of the temptation of Jesus. It is a story that has captured the imagination of Christians for centuries.
Matthew Mark and Luke all agree that Jesus experienced a period of temptation; all three give us similar versions of the incident. In addition, Hebrews 4:14-16 testifies to Jesus’ temptation. The author of Hebrews used the temptation episode to show that Jesus, like us, faced threats to his own humanity, and that we should expect the grace we received will also come under pressure.
Mark’s much condensed form of the temptation (Mark 1:12,13) episode begins almost harshly with the Spirit applying pressure and “sending” Jesus into the desert for 40 days to be tempted and tested by Satan.
Reminds me of my first day of school. I have a vivid memory of that. I still remember the pressure put on me by my parents. As I walk down the driveway to get on the school bus that first time, feeling scared and alone and not at all wanting to leave what was familiar to me. My father’s words were the only comfort and positive assurance I recall. He said: ”Trust me, you’ll be Fine”.
Also, the memory of when I spent my first night alone camping in the woods behind our home to earn a merit badge for the Boy Scouts. All those unfamiliar noises. I don’t think I ever did get to sleep. But the pressure was on to move on from being called a “Tenderfoot”. As I left for night in the woods alone, I remember the words of my father again, he said; “Trust me, you’ll be Fine”.
Later in life, when I was first called to the ministry, before delivering my first few sermons, I would almost invariably “toss my cookies”, due to the pressure I would put on myself. Due to insecurity. But I would always hear, in my mind the words of my earthly and heavenly Fathers; “Trust me, you’ll be Fine.” Isn’t that what Paul writes in Romans 10:11; “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”
In all three of those pressure filled times my faith in my father’s words would comfort and reassure and get me through. Despite my reluctance. And still do today.
In our reading of Luke, we need to understand that Luke is seeking to address both the Jewish and Christian worlds. Luke has already tied Jesus genetically to the long history of Israel by carefully reciting his entire lineage in 3:21-38.
In our text today, Luke’s reference to Jesus’ “40 days” of temptation would surely ring a bell with his Jewish audience. Jesus’ 40 days are like Moses’ 40 days spent on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:28), or Elijah’s 40- day journey to Mt. Horeb (Kings 19:4 8), and even the 40-year sojourn of Israel in the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2-6). This experience of Jesus’ 40 days in the desert also ties him into the spiritual lineage of Israel’s great religious leaders as well. Because we see that as Jesus faces his tempter, he finds his defense in Hebrew scripture, citing Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:13; 6:16).
Luke envisions a more cooperative experience than Mark, as he recorded that Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the desert”. His rendition of Jesus’ experience implies that, he more willingly did the will of the Spirit. This in no way lessens the force, fervor and the pressure of the temptations.
The three attempts at seduction by the devil are extraordinarily powerful and ensnaring. Jesus in his humanity is being tempted and tested as we are. This episode of ‘The Temptation of Jesus” is given to us as an example to help us learn how to handle, “Grace under Pressure”.
I’d like to ask you a question today. Who is a good example to you of grace under pressure? I’m talking about someone who can rise to a challenge without panicking or taking shortcuts. How would you rate yourself at handling pressure? We’d all like to think we could pass a sudden test or challenge of our faith with ease.
There’s a story told of four high school boys who couldn’t resist the temptation to skip morning classes. Each had been smitten with a bad case of spring fever. After lunch they showed up at school and reported to the teacher that their car had a flat tire. Much to their relief, she smiled and said, “Well, you missed a quiz this morning, so take your seats and get out a pencil and paper.” Still smiling, she waited as they settled down and got ready for her questions. Then she said, “First question–which tire was flat?” That sure looks like “Grace under Pressure” to me.
How many parents have watched anxiously as their child has gone off for their first day at a new school? So much depends on first impressions; will your child fit in with the “right” group of students or fall in with a bad crowd?
The same choices confronted Jesus as he left his familiar, protected life as a simple carpenter’s son and embarked upon his new role as Messiah. What kind of a person should, could, would he take on during this first real test?
The devil hits literally at gut level with the first temptation. Not surprisingly, Jesus’ truly human nature experienced hunger after his 40-day fast. But Jesus was not actually starving. This was a self-imposed hunger, willingly endured for religious purposes. Long fasts have always been popular means of bringing oneself closer to God. The devil’s taunt was not to a man whose suffering was the result of a famine or poverty or cruelty. Eating at this point was not a matter of life or death for Jesus. It was more like the temptation that an unguarded cookie represents to a struggling dieter. The issue is not survival. The issue is willpower and a sense of purpose. The devil is advocating an “if-it-feels-good-do-it” philosophy that celebrates petty indulgences. But Jesus isn’t biting. He responds by saying, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ “
Then Luke tells how the devil alters time in order to take Jesus on an instantaneous tour of the world’s richest in verse 5. In his humanity Jesus, might have been thinking; Could it be that this being who so easily manipulated matter and time is indeed worthy of the worship he seeks?
Jesus faces the dual temptation of personal power and denying God in this second trial. Unlike the first and last temptations in Luke, the devil does not ask Jesus to perform an activity in order to flaunt his identity. Here the devil offers a seductive gift to Jesus, but only if he will give up his identity and acknowledge the devil’s superiority.
We see this in our world today. The temptation of political power. It must have been enticing to one who possessed such a clear sense of righteousness and justice as did Jesus. How compassionately and judiciously Jesus would have wielded the unlimited worldly authority the devil dangled in front of him. Jesus might momentarily have had the nearsighted vision for a better world and escaping the cross, as compared to God’s all-encompassing plan for the salvation of all, but the devil shot himself in the foot when he demanded that the price of this authority was to deny God and worship him.
Notice that Jesus’ scriptural response had nothing to do with the power he had been offered; it deals only with the much-too-high-price the devil seeks to extract. “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ “
Jesus’ final confrontation with the devil takes place on the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem. The devil dares Jesus to deny his humanity, with its accompanying mortality, and to allow his divine nature full rein. If Jesus descended from the top of the temple as the swooping superman the devil envisions, surely all Jerusalem would have worshiped and adored him.
The same city that Jesus would later mourn for and long to gather into his arms, would have suddenly been his. But, of course, the whole point of “Easter’s Grace”, the incarnation would have been lost. If Jesus had not responded to the devil saying, ”Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Jesus knew how to handle “Grace under Pressure.”
So again, I’d like to ask you a question today. Who is your example of “Grace under Pressure? Is it Jesus? Can you respond as he did when tempted and tested?
Remembering that; “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’ “
Remembering to; “Worship the Lord your God and serve him only” and “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”
As Paul reminds us; “The word is near you;”. Is it in your mouth and in your heart? Is that the word of faith you are proclaiming when your, “Grace is under Pressure? If it is, heed the advice of my father. “Trust me, you’ll be fine.”
“Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Amen!
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20220306
Listen To Audio: Service 03062022

Prayer of Confession:   O Lord, we have failed to bring you the first of all our blessings.  We have been slow to come to the place you have chosen as a dwelling for your name.  We have been intoxicated by a hunger for power, possessions, and protection. Forgive us, we pray.  Guide us again through your Word and your will and your way.   In Your name Jesus we pray, Amen.




Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday afternoon from 2 to 4.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Social Hour TODAY following church.  Greeting cards for signature are in the Community Building.

Loose change goes to Local Mission.

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 1:00! Please come and join us in singing praises to Jesus! 

One Great Hour of Sharing starts TODAY.

Presbyterian Women will meet on Thursday, March 10th for  Cleaning the Community Building 10-11am and meeting 11 to 1.

Session Meeting Saturday, March 12, at 9 A.M.

Daylight Savings Time, March 13 – Spring Forward

Men’s Breakfast Wednesday March 16th at 8:00 A.M.

Pastor Joe and Bonne will be on vacation the last two weeks of March.

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, March 29th, 2022.

Please sign up to host one of the social hours on the Sunday after Communion Service on the first Sunday of the month.  

Listen to WPEL 96.5 for church cancellation if your internet is down during a storm this winter.

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