February 13, 2005

1st Sunday of Lent

"Don't Settle for Half A Glass"

(Matthew 4:1-11)

Rev. Billy D. Strayhorn


How many of you watched the Super Bowl religiously like I did last week? Some of you have told me that you watched so you could see the commercials and try and figure out which ones I'd use today. A number of you have told me you figured out which ones I wouldn't use. They were kind of obvious.

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is that season of preparation for the devastation of Good Friday and the joy and celebration of Easter. It remembers and celebrates the preparation of Jesus on His road to the Cross. And the very first event in that was the Temptations.

First and foremost, Jesus was tempted just like you and I. He spent 40 days in the wilderness wrestling with what and how He should carry out God's will. And the whole time he thirsted for the full glass of the answer, Satan tempted Him with half a glass.

One of the Verizon Commercials illustrated this quite well.

*01 Chimp banana phone, Verizon

This is an ad about cheap imitation. That's what giving into Temptation is all about. Had Jesus given in and bowed down before the Tempter so He wouldn't have to face the cross, the Kingdom established would have been a cheap imitation of God's Kingdom. It would have only been half a glass and not the whole glass. Let's look at the passage.

Matthew 4:1-11 (NRSV)

[1] Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

[2] He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.

[3] The tempter came and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread."

[4] But he answered, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

[5] Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple,

[6] saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"

[7] Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'"

[8] Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor;

[9] and he said to him, "All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me."

[10] Jesus said to him, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'"

[11] Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

One of the Ford Truck commercials illustrates what Satan wanted out of these temptations quite well.

*02 Ford Tough Trucks & Motorcycle Gang

Temptation wanted Jesus to be like this motorcycle gang, when they saw that the place was too tough for them, they gave up and left. Temptation was telling Jesus do same thing. Saying he wasn't strong enough. Says same thing to us. But Good News is: He overcame temptation - because of that, we can be strengthened If call on him. He will help us Not Settle For A Half A Glass. Let's look at the each of the temptations.


A. First there was the stones to bread. This was a very real temptation, Jesus had been fasting and praying. He was hungry. And it was the right time. It was a temptation to think only of himself, kind of like the Emerald Nuts commercial.

*03 Emerald nuts

That commercial is about selfishness, but we know that Jesus told us to think about others. We're called to love our neighbors as ourselves, we're called to care the poor, needy, hungry, sick, widows and orphans. Jesus couldn't have said those things if he'd given into temptation.

B. The thing about temptation, is that it comes at our weakest point. Or when we least expect it.

*04 Police & Mustang convertible

I liked this commercial, made it sound like Ford was doing the responsible thing and waiting until spring to keep us from succumbing to temptation and doing to ourselves what the guy in the commercial did to himself. This commercial understand that this is exactly what we do. We don't say no to ourselves. Temptation was hoping to catch Jesus just like that. Because right at that moment, he was strongest in spirit but weakest in body. He was hungry beyond compare. To our benefit, Jesus said, "No! We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."


That takes us right to the pinnacle of the Temple and the temptation to call on the angels of heaven. It's also the temptation to be like the world. You see, according to some commentaries, the pinnacle of the Temple was where they sounded the Shofar, the rams horn, signaling times of worship and it overlooked both the Court of the Gentiles and the Marketplace. If Jesus were to throw himself from the pinnacle of the Temple, He would have been settling for half a glass. Not only would He be giving into Temptation, He would be Tempting God, and putting on show for the world. He would be showing everyone just how powerful He was, not for God's glory but for His own. And He would have become just like the world he came to save.

The world is like the P Diddy Pepsi commercial.

*05 Diet Pepsi Truck

The world says be like the world, don't be like Jesus. Instead, let everyone see how cool you are. But that's not what Jesus says. He calls us to be like Him, humble, loving and a servant. In Romans 12:2 the Apostle Paul says: "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Saying "Yes" to the world, is settling for half a glass. Jesus calls us to say, "No" to the world. Don't settle for half a glass.


A. And then there is the third temptation. The devil promised to give Jesus the world if he'd just forget His mission and purpose and bow down to the devil. The old devil told Jesus He could have the world and avoid the pain of the cross. But can you imagine what the world would be like without the cross.

The two Ameriquest commercials remind us what the world should be like because of the cross. They tell us not to judge too quickly. Watch.

*06 Don't Judge to quickly, we won't, AmeriQuest both.

B. But the Lay's commercial tells us what the world is really like.

*07 Lay's Chips and MC Hammer:

We live in a cast away world, if it's no longer hot, if it's no longer in, if it's no longer cool or of any use to any one then it's not of any value, toss it. We do it with objects, ideas, lifestyles, relationships and even people. But that's settling for half a glass.

In the Kingdom of God, everyone has worth. No one is a throw away. Jesus gave his life for every single person in the world. And just like the Ameriquest commercials reminds us, were called not to judge too quickly. Jesus tells us not to Judge at all or we risk being judged with the same kind of judgment.

Had Jesus given into the temptation to short circuit the road to the cross, then there would be a whole lot more judging, a whole lot more cast away people than there are right now. Judging would probably be the order of the day, and life would be a living .... Well, you know what.


A. The Good News is that Jesus didn't settle for half a glass. He waited. Yes, He was thirsty. Yes, He was hungry. Yes, He was tempted. No, He wasn't looking forward to the pain of the cross. But luckily for us, He looked beyond the cross to what awaited on the other side of that pain, our salvation and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

The Bubblicious commercial reminded me of that.

*08 Bubblicious gum

So much for letting it get to you, that was Jesus' attitude, sure the pressures of world tempted Him. But He didn't let them control Him. No matter what the offer, no matter how much it would have short circuited the process. There was only one way and Jesus took it and because He chose to wait and drink from the full glass, we have been offered salvation.

[19] For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous.

And because Jesus didn't settle for half a glass, we can sing with Joe Montana and the other NFL players:

*09 Joe Montana, thinking about tomorrow.


Remember, don't Settle For Half a Glass. When we settle for half a glass, there is no tomorrow. But with Jesus we're all undefeated.

When we give in to Temptation, when we Settle for half a glass, then we're just like all the people and all the other vehicles in one of the Toyota hybrid commercials.

* 10 Getting nowhere, hybrid vehicle, Toyota.

When we give into Temptation our lives are like all the people and all the vehicles in this commercial, getting nowhere, fast. We don't want to go nowhere, we want to go with Jesus.

Because He overcame the temptations. He didn't settle for half a glass. Oh, he had to wait. And he had to suffer through some horrendous events, the unjust trial, the mockery, the beatings, the humiliation, the taunts of the crowd and the cruelty of the cross.

But look what he gained; us and our salvation, and His place at the right hand of God for all of eternity. By saying "Yes," to God, and "No!" to the half a glass offered by the tempter, Jesus not only received the full glass of God love and joy but became for us the fountain out of which we can drink deeply any time. He became the one who can quench our thirst.

And more importantly, Jesus became the one who strengthens us when we're tempted to settle for half a glass, rather than waiting for the full glass. He strengthens us and helps us overcome temptation just like he did.

While I'm not endorsing the product, the message is very good. Watch.

* 11 Bud Donkey & Animals

It's not too late. See what Jesus started. It's not too late. You can be one of the undefeated. Don't Settle for Half A Glass.

This is the Word of the Lord for this day.







Other References Consulted

www.SermonWriter.com (Copyright, Richard Niell Donovan, 2000)



www.rockies.net/~spirit/sermon.html (Richard Fairchild Lectionary Resources)

Homiletics, (Communications Resources, Inc., Canton, OH)

Lectionary Homiletics, (Lectionary Homiletics, Inc. Midlothian, VA)

Dynamic Preaching, (Seven Worlds Publishing, Knoxville, TN)

The Clergy Journal, (Logos Productions, Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN)

Preaching Magazine (Preaching Resources, Jackson, TN)

Circuit Rider, (The United Methodist Publishing House, Nashville, TN)

The Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1953)

The New Interpreter's Bible, (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995)

Lectionary Preaching Workbook, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 2002) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Miracles, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1998) SermonPrep Version.

Preaching the Parables, Cycle A, (CSS Publishing, Lima, OH, 1997) SermonPrep Version.