A popular kind of preaching has crowd appeal, but very little of Jesus in it. The teachings of Jesus are overlooked in favor of the mass appeal of miracles, stunts and materialism. The hysteria witnessed is unlike any that Jesus encouraged. When Jesus taught, he challenged people to think. Instead these preachers encourage people to stop thinking, leaving their brains at the door. In reality, thinking people see right through the mass-deception. There is no teaching of what Jesus taught, but selected preaching of only those verses which in isolation seem to support popular preconceived notions. Satan also tried to deceive Jesus into a miracle turning stones into bread, to make foolish decisions disguised as religion and be materialistic. Trite miracles, folly and wealth did not tempt Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11). His miracles, thoughtful wisdom and voluntary poverty were real.
The temptation of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11) included antidotes to similar religious deception today. What is an antitoxin to deception involving miracles? Rather than performing a presumptuous miracle, Jesus was concerned about feeding on the word of God. Beware of those who place miracles ahead of teaching from the Bible. Beware of those who claim to have a word from God, but do not get it from the Bible. What is an antidote to those misquoting the Bible and tempting us into foolish leaps of faith? An antidote is to know our Bibles well enough to see through such things as cheap stunts disguised as faith but are in reality tempting God. What is an antivenin to deception involving promises of wealth and power? Jesus said to worship God and serve only him not the deception of wealth and power.
We are all familiar with scenes of great victory where a hero, with tears streaming down the face, is cheered on by a large crowd. Yet many of life’s greatest victories are won far away from the applauding multitude, in the privacy of our own solitude. The Temptation of Christ (Matthew 4:1-11) was such a victory. He was all alone in the wilderness without supporters to cheer him on to victory. It is easy to do the right thing when others are watching, but the real test is when nobody is around. The real victory may not occur when we are at a church service, but during the week when we are all alone. But we are not alone. Just as Jesus overcame temptation, so too by faith in him do we overcome the world (1 John 5:4-5).