The Jesus Temptation Series Part 4: Only One God
VERSE PASSAGE: Matthew 4:8-10 "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” - NIV
The first two temptations set the stage for the third and final one. This is the devils final and most deceptive effort to trap Jesus into a disloyal position against God.
The devil offered a deal to Jesus. Jesus had demonstrated His full commitment and obedience to God by His responses in the first two temptations. So what did the devil do? He changed his approach. The devil cannot change himself but he can change the way he approaches us. He can change the way he says things. He can change the way things may appear to us. He can change direction and focus on attacking us in another way. In this temptation the devil did not start out by saying "if you are the Son of God" Why? Because the devil has already tried that approach. Now he will shirt and go another direction. This last temptation was "what would Jesus the Son be willing to do to establish the kingdom of God on earth?"
The devil knows the Word. I wonder if the devil and Jesus were both thinking about Psalm 2. Since this passage deals with the Messiah ruling the kingdoms of earth.
How much of a king do you think Jesus felt? He had fasted 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, he was alone, tired, weak, hungry, and thirsty. The devil seized this opportunity. The devil basically told Jesus this, "let me show you a way to fulfill your hearts desire."
If you really think about Jesus' condition and the devils offer this was a good combination.
Jesus was deprived, tired, and hungry. Alone in the wilderness, there was no church or pastor to give encouragement or support. By physically eyes Jesus really didn't accomplish anything.
The devils offers was of significance and came with instant results, plus Jesus would've had to power to do whatever He wanted if He ruled over all the kingdoms.
I wonder if there was a book back then similar to The Art of the Deal because this was a great deal. Jesus had already resisted twice before. And now the devil has combined the first two temptations and added bonuses and wrapped it up into a third temptation. The devil is like that car sales man that won't stop. He keeps sweetening the deal. This was Jesus' chance to rule the nations and to decree the kingdom of a God on earth. What better deal could you get?
However, like every deal there is those little words that are in like 4 point font that no one wants you to read and they say it's really nothing important. The little front sentence was "only if you bow down and worship me."
Bowing down and worship is symbolic. It appears that the devil tried to minimize the significance of this gesture as to do it in the wilderness while they were alone. The devil wasn't asking for this to be a public event. Also, there was no mention of this worship being an everyday thing. It seems the devil would've been satisfied with this one time action.
However, what some people don't understand is that worshiping signifies a few things.
- Allegiance to the one who is worshiped. This would mean there is a duty of loyalty expected.
- The superiority of the one who is worshiped. This is because worship flows from the interior to the superior.
- Dependence of the worshiper on the one who is worshiped. This means that the worshiper is acknowledging that he/she is not sufficient without the one who is worshiped.
This is were things changed. Jesus realized that the symbolic act of bowing down and worshiping the devil would start a continuous obligation.
I've heard people state that the devil was lying to Jesus in this passage. However, I disagree. Yea there has been times when Jesus has called the devil a liar, and we know that the devil does lie. But there is something very interesting about this whole thing.
In Luke's account which is Luke 4:5-8. The devil mentions in verse 6 “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” The devil claims that he has been given the authority and splendor, and that he can give it to whoever he wants. This statement would seem that the devil was not lying. Ephesians 4:4 and 1 John 5:19 give statements that the devil rules on earth. Jesus even admits to the devils authority in John 12:31 He calls him the prince of this world. So there are several passages that give supper to the devils claim. I believe the devil was giving a true statement and Jesus knew that.
Furthermore, if the devil's claim was false why didn't Jesus just say so? Jesus could have told him, "you can't deliver the kingdoms to me" But Jesus did not give that response. This once again give credit to the devil's claim.
Now it is easy to get lost in all this detail. However, the response from Jesus is outstanding. He goes right to, "it is written: worship the Lord your God only." Jesus made it clear that only God was worthy of worship and not even all the kingdoms of the world would be worth worshiping someone else. Because no one else is worthy.
We should only be worshiping God. Not the image of God, not idols in our life, not false gods, not even worshiping God and another god. True worship is worshiping Him and Him only.
It may not be an image, some people tend to fall to worshiping their family, their job, money, their nation. Whenever we worship God and something else there will be a conflict between the two and when there is we must make a choice. Jesus knew that people would struggle worshiping other things. Jesus made statements about not being able to serve God and money. Not being double standard, not being lukewarm.
Jesus resisted the temptations because He used the Word. He relied on God. He had a commitment and dedication to the Father. This must be our path. This is the footstep to walk in. There is only One God that is worthy of our worship.
Be blessed my brothers and sisters in Christ.
Copyright © 2017 by Jacob D. Olinger
The Jesus Temptarion Series Part 4