June 18, 2012
“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shalt thou serve.”
The temptation of the Lord Jesus by Satan in the wilderness is well known to all of us. At times, however, we may fail to see the full implications and subtlety of all Satan presented to the Lord Jesus.
In the second temptation recorded by Luke (it is Matthew’s final and ultimate test), the devil displayed all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. How this occurred we are not told. What form or what means is not disclosed. We can only be assured the test was real and the effect on the Lord Jesus was that He suffered at the thought of sin. All is offered to Christ on one condition: “If Thou therefore will worship me, all shall be Thine.”
The Lord Jesus had been promised the kingdoms of this world. As Son of Man, He was destined to rule in the sphere where Adam had failed. All would once again be headed up in Him (Ps 84-6; Heb 2:5-10). God’s plans for a man to reign over the earth would not be frustrated. His Man was destined to reign.
But now, in this barren wilderness, the devil had taken Him up to a high mountain. Here he posited a shortcut, a way of having the kingdoms now. A way of having the kingdoms without the cross. What he was in effect saying was: “I will give you the glory without the suffering; I can give you the kingdoms without the cross.”
How did our Lord Jesus Christ answer him? Notice His words and ponder their true meaning. “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.” First, notice what He was not saying. He was not saying that Satan should be worshiping Him. Rather, as a dependent man He was saying that He was a worshiper of God. He was saying that He would be a worshiper of God even if it meant a cross. He was also saying that the glory and greatness offered by Satan was really a bondage: whomever we worship we inevitably serve.
Hebrews tell us that the Lord Jesus suffered being tempted (Heb 2:18). He suffered at the suggestion of sin, but He also suffered hunger rather than sin; He suffered the cross rather than receiving the kingdoms from Satan; and He suffered misunderstanding and being unknown in His own world and to His own nation, rather than making the display Satan suggested (vv 9-12).
1. Why is there a difference in order between Matthew’s account and Luke’s? Is it in keeping with the theme of each Gospel?
2. Was this temptation ever repeated in some form? Was there ever an occasion when they wanted to make Him a king?
3. Look at the geographic and physical conditions under which the temptations occurred: hunger, a high mountain, a holy pinnacle. What does it suggest about the manner in which the devil frames his temptations?