March 16, 2016
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
It’s fascinating that Satan chooses to take Jesus to high places. Yesterday it was to the highest place on the Temple mount. Today it’s a “very high mountain.” Watch for these mountains in Matthew. In the next chapter we will come to a mountain where Jesus will preach the most important sermon in world history. Later we will ascend the Mount of Transfiguration. Finally, we will end up on the mountain of the great commission. And of course, do not forget it was on a mountain—Golgotha—where Jesus was crucified. For now we must remember, Jesus is the one who came down from the highest place. He is on his way to the lowest place. I wonder, too, if there’s an allusion to the that tallest tower of Babel—the one they built to reach the heavens and make a great name for themselves.
Here we are with Jesus, Satan and the Scriptures gazing out across all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And Satan has the audacity to say this: “All this I will give you,” he said,
First of all, who is he fooling? I’ll bet the first thing that came to Jesus mind was song #24, which begins
The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;
for he founded it on the seas
and established it on the waters. vv.1-2.
Satan has no authority but rogue authority and no property rights but squatters’ rights. Look closer. Satan is promising to give Jesus what already belongs to him in exchange for his worship. If Satan tries to cut a deal with the Son of God and it’s a legitimate temptation, how much more will he attempt to do so with us. Here is the deal.
“if you will bow down and worship me.”
All Jesus had to do was bow down and worship Satan. It’s a rare case where some false god asks for our exclusive worship. They don’t mind that we worship the one true and living God also. As long as our worship is divided Satan wins. As long as the one true and living God does not have our undivided loyalty Satan wins. This is why money remains the most dangerous thing in the world—not bad, just dangerous. It is the currency of the kingdoms of this world. It cries out to us to seek after it. Jesus will soon be calling us so clearly to seek first the Kingdom of God and that we can’t serve God and money and many other astonishing revelations. For now, let’s marvel at Jesus response to Satan.
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
And remember that bit in temptation #2 when Satan quoted the Scripture about God commanding the angels concerning him. How about this:
Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Let’s leave it there today.
*Here’s a bonus assignment for extra points. Read ahead through the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). You are going to be amazed at the subtle and no so subtle connections with this week’s walk in the wilderness.
1. Remember the first of the ten commandments? “You shall have no other gods before me.” What do you make of this notion of divided loyalties?
2. Why do you think our God asks us for undivided worship? What happens when we divide our loyalties?
3. Is this not the ultimate temptation—to worship God and ________________ (fill in the blank). No, not to literally bow down on the ground. That would be too easy. It’s more like the way money calls us to seek it in order to be secure. How much deception are you willing to entertain around the issue of seeking wealth as security—not in place of but in addition to God? Sorry, I had to ask. ;0)
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.