Show of Force

One Sunday morning a while back I asked the congregation what superpower they would most like to have. I got a wide range of answers. Someone said they would like to have super strength. Others wanted x-ray vision, others wanted to be able to read minds, and somebody wanted to be able fly.

The other question I’d love to ask is: How many of you would be tempted to use your superpowers to “break the rules?” Would you be tempted to profit illegally from those powers? Would you be tempted to steal? Would you seek revenge on all of those who had ever hurt you? Would you use your power to control others?

There’s a movie out right now called “Jumpers.” I haven’t seen it, but as far as I can gather, it’s about people who have the ability to teleport anywhere in the world. They hang from Big Ben in London, have a picnic on the top of the Sphinx, or show up in the Coliseum after it closes. They can also break the rules. Wouldn’t you be tempted to steal if you knew that your powers gave you the ability to break into any bank in the world?

Since we’re sitting in church, my immediate answer would be, “No.” Of course I would only use my powers for good! I would be a member of the League of Justice instead of the Legion of Doom. I would join the X-men. And I would never dream of abusing my abilities. But I must acknowledge how tempting it would be.

Would you believe that Jesus faced this temptation? Scripture is very clear about it. This morning we’re beginning a series of lessons that will follow Jesus through the final week before his crucifixion. We’ll watch Jesus during his week in Jerusalem. We’ll walk beside him as he goes to his crucifixion, and we’ll celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Today we’re going to be looking at a passage where Christ is tempted to misuse the power at his disposal. And we’ll see that he chooses the way that is right, even though it’s the way that is difficult. In entering the city of Jerusalem for his ultimate show down with the forces of darkness, Jesus teaches us what kind of a King he is and what it means to be members of his Kingdom.

It’s a good reminder for us as we talk about changing lives through Jesus this year.