Why this is important: We live in a world where we think we can get the answer to anything automatically. Technology has changed how we see things. It is useful but dangerous. GOD’s World (Kingdom) doesn’t work that way. GOD demands a different way of seeing things. Jesus challenges us to trust in GOD alone.
We are in a battle with the devil, the evil one. The devil is a great liar. Did he really have the ability to give Jesus all the earth’s kingdoms. All Jesus had to do was worship the devil. Jesus recognized the lie and quoted Deuteronomy, God’s holy word, to refute the lie. We can do the same.
You have met people who absolutely focused. Wow, what they can do. And, you have met people absolutely focused on God. They are so powerful because GOD is so powerful. Got to love it. They know that GOD is GOD. He is in complete control. Always has been. Always will be. The trust Him and Him alone.
May we be focused on Jesus. He is the only thing. His plan compels me to execute what He wants. His government (Kingdom) is supreme. Nothing else deserves my devotion. Nothing else. Jesus got it. May I rise to the challenge Jesus lays out in front of me. This is the main thing about the main thing.
I need to be single-hearted. That is it.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.
English Standard Version. (2016). (Matthew 4:8–11). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
NOT ONLY DO the temptations have personal and national elements, but now the devil reveals a universal dimension as well. He takes Jesus to a high mountain, shows him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, and then makes an astounding offer: “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
What a cruel enticement! Those kingdoms are the very reason Jesus has laid aside his own glory. His ultimate purpose is to gather the nations into the kingdom of God.
- But before he sits on his royal throne, he must hang on the cross.
- So, the devil offers a shortcut. Jesus can bypass the ignominy of this human travail and the suffering of the cross.
- But taking the shortcut requires an immense condition: He must give up the will of his Father in heaven to worship the devil on earth.
- The Father’s will for Jesus’ life is the cross, but Satan tries to sidetrack him from that mission by getting him to take a shortcut to gain the kingdom that will someday be his the hard way.
So, Jesus emphatically declares, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” In this response Jesus exerts his rightful authority over Satan by issuing his first command and quotes for the third time the book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 6:13). As powerful as Satan may be, and as frail as Jesus must be because of the extended fasting and the intensity of the temptations, Jesus vanquishes him with a word.
The followers of Jesus are people of hope. We know that Jesus is king and is in charge. We know that all things work together according to God’s plan. We know about the evil behind many current worldviews. We know scripture and the power of God. Here is what we know:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
There are three important points here.
- Satan emphasizes that he has been given authority over the kingdoms of the world, and he can give it to whomever he wishes. Satan does have significant influence over the people and powers of this world, but his influence is limited. His offer to Jesus shows his own “diabolical self-delusion.” The time of his demise is at hand, but he fights on, thinking that he can sidetrack the very one who comes to curtail his power.
- Temptations involve the twisting of reality, so the antidote comes from the truth of Scripture. Jesus does not get involved in a spiritual arm-wrestling match, pitting his power as Son of God against Satan’s power. Instead, he uses the truth of Scripture to guide his understanding of reality.
- The Father alone is worthy of worship. Satan’s demand for Jesus to worship him indicates his overall objective and is indeed the essence of sin. Sin desires to cast off God’s will and have one’s own way, to make oneself out to be the god of one’s own life. Satan desires to supplant God. Worship of God is the tangible demonstration that a person has given over the rule of one’s life to God’s will, not one’s own. This also has implications for understanding Jesus’ own identity as the divine Son of God, because he has received, and will continue to receive, worship.