Here we are on the second Sunday of Lent, and this week I am looking at the next temptation Jesus faced in the desert against the devil, the one of worship and glory.
Let's take a look at the text:
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, “To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered him, “It is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God,
and serve only him.’” (cf. Matthew 4:8-10)
Last week we saw how Satan tempts Jesus through his hunger and used his physical weakness as a way in to try and trip him up. This week we are looking at misplaced worship and the temptation to look to things other than God.
As we begin to look through these temptations of Jesus, we begin to see that they weren't entirely random but are in fact another way in which Jesus reverses the sin that first began in the Garden. It is yet another proof that Jesus is the second Adam who has overcome sin!
Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden for a moment:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.
Contrast that with what John writes in his first epistle:
1 John 2:15-16
The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride of life (or in riches) comes not from the Father but from the world.
The sin that separated Adam and Eve from God in the beginning is the same in essence as what John says comes from the world and not the Father. These are the same areas of sin and temptation that the devil was using on Jesus in the desert too — and no wonder since Satan is the god/prince of this world, that he would use the same tricks and things that are of this world against us.
In the passage from Luke which details the temptation Jesus faced, we get another glimpse of this power over the world that Satan had when he says that authority “has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please”. Here he tries to use this authority to give Jesus anything he wants – with one small catch: he must bow and worship Satan!
This is another example of how focusing on this life and our own power and influence can take our eyes off God and place worship and glory elsewhere — either on ourselves or on other people/things. In this case the devil tried to get Jesus to worship him in exchange for the glory of all the nations of the earth, but once again Jesus lays the smackdown on the devil with the written word of God. Worship God. Serve only Him.
What can we learn from this? To keep our focus on God, no matter the cost. Don’t exchange your integrity and morals for the fleeting and temporary power of this world. Like Jesus said to Peter when he rebuked him, “...you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things”; we also much fight daily to keep our minds focused on God so that we may stay humble and remember where the glory belongs. “He must increase, but I must decrease” as John the Baptist said (John 3:30).
The devil offered Jesus the world (as if he needed it given to him), hoping to get him to compromise and place his devotion elsewhere. Jesus obviously knew better, but we sometimes need to be reminded. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” as Paul wrote to the Colossians (3:1-4). That still rings true for us today.
If you are tempted by this world and its fleeting glory, and you start to place your worship in places other than God, just remember the words of Jesus:
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?
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