I have read about the temptation of Jesus numerous times in Matthew’s Gospel account; however, I have missed something critical every time. That is until this past time when the Lord gracious revealed this truth to me. In Matthew 4:8-9, Satan takes Jesus to the top of a very high mountain and shows Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Satan has the audacity to tell Jesus that he will give it all to Him if He bows down to Satan.
As I read this, the Spirit was reminding me that Jesus is preeminent and all things are His (Colossians 1:15-20). As I leaned back in my chair, I began to wonder why Satan would offer Jesus something that was already His. You see, Jesus’ role as sovereign Savior King came through His redemptive work on the cross as well as His triumphant resurrection, defeating death and sin. Christ, to be the risen King must first fulfill the Father’s will for Him, which was to bear God’s righteous wrath for sinful man of the cross. In the simplest form, for Christ to rise triumphantly, He must first die and be buried.
Thus it is, Satan’s temptation then is for Jesus to take a shortcut, bypassing the redemptive work (suffering, rejection, persecution, and crucifixion) and receive His kingdom now. This would have to come, however, “at the cost of exchanging the love of the Father for the worship of Satan,” (ESV Study Bible).
Empty Promises and Jesus’ Response
There are several implications to consider in studying this passage of Scripture. First, Satan’s promise is empty, to begin with, just as all the promises of sin are still empty today and forever. Second, all authority belongs to God, not Satan. Satan is referred to as “ruler of the world” in John 12:31, but he is not with absolute authority. God is. Therefore, the temptation Satan is trying to get across is for Jesus to break the first commandment. Praise God for Jesus’ response. “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God and Him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10).
Our Faithful Savior
Consider with me the weight of Jesus’ response. First, Jesus withstood temptation and remained sinless, which is why He was able to be the perfect substitutionary sacrifice for sinful humanity. Even in the flesh, in the likeness of men in every way, Jesus remained perfectly obedient to the Father. Second, imagine the horror of what would have been if Jesus would have given in to this temptation. What if Jesus decided to bypass all the redemptive work to receive His reign in God’s kingdom, over all the kingdoms of the world? We would be utterly hopeless. There would be no Savior, no hope for a future inheritance, and no salvation. We would all be destined for Hell with no other option! There would be no blood to cover us, no cross, no resurrection, no triumph! Only infinite and everlasting sorrow, pain, and anguish.
Oh, the grace of our God and the glory of Christ our Savior! Oh, how beautiful the gospel is! Christ remained obedient and sinless even to the point of death on a cross so we might be reconciled to our Father (Philippians 2:8, Romans 5:10). Oh how there is hope, grace, mercy, love, and life eternal to be found in Christ Jesus! Praise God for the obedience of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ, that He gave not into temptation and cut no corners, but endured all the pain, suffering, beating, mocking, persecution, rejection, and crucifixion for the sake of God’s glory and for the salvation of all those whom God calls to Himself!
Let Us Join Him
So, church, may we join with Christ and gladly persevere through our present sufferings, for His sake, looking forward to the reward, namely Christ, and the glorious inheritance we have in Him and eternity in Heaven. May we be committed, covenanted church members who love, serve and seek to build up the body in the faith. May we be brothers and sisters with knees scarred from our prayers for one another and who dig deep from the fountain of the truth of God’s Word. May we cut no corners and strive to give into no temptation, depending on the Spirit’s help to be joyfully obedient to God’s Word.
May we also labor long and hard alongside one another for the souls of men just as Christ has done. After laboring, one day we will enter into eternal rest and joy in and with Christ. May we store up God’s Word in our hearts, just as Christ did, and fight temptation with the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17). May the goal of our lives be to glorify God, exalt Christ, and proclaim His name and His glory among all nations, telling of His salvation day by day (Psalm 96:2-3).