The last several weeks, we have seen the start of the political process for determining the presidential candidates from the two major parties in the U.S. First we witnessed the caucuses in Iowa and then, earlier this week, we saw the first primary in the state of New Hampshire. Members of the press have tried to spin the results every which way they can and there is no question that some of the candidates are in real trouble and campaigning for their political lives.
I never remember so many candidates vying for our attention and trying to convince us that they should be the next president of the United States. And we are no sooner done with one state than everyone is moving on to the next state in the rotation to try and improve their position. Everyone tries to spin their particular beliefs in such a way that they appeal to the largest number of people. And, of course, everyone attacks the leader in the polls in the hope of knocking the current king off the top of the mountain.
Sooner or later, we will have the election and each one of us who is registered to vote will have an opportunity to participate in the decision as to who the next Commander in Chief will be. And since we are all citizens of the United States, the winner of the electoral vote will be elected to the highest office in the land – the leader of the most powerful nation in the world.
It has occurred to me that what we are witnessing is not so different from the battle that Jesus and Satan have waged for thousands of years. Satan, originally an angel who suffered from the sin of pride and turned to the dark side, has always had a goal of winning people to the side of evil. False promises, temptations and deceit are his calling cards – calling each of us to the dark side. Opposite him, we have the God of the universe – trying to love us into an eternal relationship with Him.
What makes it difficult for some of us is the fact that Satan tempts us with things of the flesh – things that appeal to our human nature and that we think will serve us best during our time here on earth. However, Jesus talks about the promises of His father and does not focus as much on our earthly lives as He does on our eternal lives in heaven. And he appeals to us to “follow” Him, beginning our eternal lives as soon as we accept His free gift of salvation.
What makes this whole history between Satan and Jesus even more perplexing is the fact that Satan didn’t only try to tempt mankind – he actually tried to tempt Jesus during the 40 days and 40 nights that Jesus was wandering in the wilderness at the start of His ministry. Of course, Jesus caught the nuances of the lies of Satan and wasn’t swayed by the false promises of Satan.
Now it seems to me that the choice is obvious, but for millions of people, that just isn’t the case. The appeal of instant gratification and other temptations from Satan are just too much to give up for the unknown of life in heaven with Jesus. And Satan is a master at spinning the situation to make it sound better than it really is. It doesn’t sound too much different from our politicians, does it?
Except for one important thing. Each person gets to vote for themselves and is afforded the reality of living with their decision – for all eternity. We don’t all have to abide by the decision of the majority. That doesn’t apply here. Each of us gets to make our own choice – moreover, we don’t get to choose for anyone else, even our children. Each person casts their own vote.
The verse for tonight helps us identify the promises of God. We are told, by the apostle John, one of the closest friends of Jesus, in John 6:47-51, “I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants to be chosen by you as Lord of your life. Nothing could make Him more unhappy than for you to follow Satan. My prayer is that you will carefully listen to the claims of Jesus and His rival, Satan. Then, and only then, should you prayerfully consider who you wish to answer to. It’s a matter of life and death – eternal life or death. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…