I’m studying the book of Jeremiah during my morning devotion, but for some reason, these days I want to listen to the four Gospels whenever I get a chance to be in my car. So, yesterday afternoon, I was listening to the Gospel according to Matthew while driving to go somewhere.
After I listened to the first three chapters and the first part of chapter four, I totally zoned out, thinking of these two verses: “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.” (Matthew 4:8-9)
I felt like I’ve never read this passage before. I said: What? Who is offering what to Who here? Hold on a second! Is the devil out of his mind for trying to tempt Jesus this way?
Well, not at all. The devil was not really out of his mind; in fact, he was very much in his mind. He knows that his last scheme is something he tends to use as his last resort. And guess what? Almost everybody falls for it (- he suggested to Eve “to see” the forbidden fruit – Genesis 3:6, he encouraged King David “to look at” a woman who was taking shower – 2 Samuel 11:2, he nagged Samson “to see” a prostitute – Judges 16, on and on and on) and Satan enjoys using his last scheme because it works!
Think about it: Jesus was heading to the cross, to taste the most shameful death anybody can experience in this life and the short rundown of Jesus’ reward after the cross was all authorities in heaven and on earth will be given to Him. (Matthew 28:18)
But before Jesus began his journey to the cross, the devil had something for Him “to look at.” (1 John 2:16) So, he “SHOWED Him all the kingdoms and their splendors” and offered Him all those things with one lucrative, “discounted price tag” that reads: “Take it all without the cross.”
Wow! Talk about being tempted, this is unparalleled! Read it, please, again and again until you see the magnitude of this temptation. You see, sometimes we get used to reading the same story five hundred times that we miss the message in its entirety (at least, that is the case with me).
Think about it! All Jesus had to do to get everything under His feet, without going through the torturous journey to Golgotha to be shamefully crucified in public was to privately kneel down for a few seconds and say to Satan, “Oh, my lord! You are my god!” And boom! The story would have ended there; He would have gotten everything, WITHOUT THE CROSS, without pain and tears, without anybody spitting at Him or pulling His hair out.
Well, here is the thing. You see, Jesus knew all along that “the joy” of having all authorities in heaven and on earth could only be found in His Father’s will (Hebrew 12:2). Outside of that, He knew that He wouldn’t taste any of this joy. Having all the kingdoms of the world and their splendors might give Him a rush of adrenaline at best, but it would quickly drop back to zero in a few seconds, which the Bible neatly calls this phenomena as “the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrew 11:25).
You see, Satan ain’t a fool. I hope you don’t see him like that. He knows what is in store for Jesus. He knows well that whatever he is offering to Jesus belongs to Jesus after the cross but he is offering them to Him anyways. He is offering Him an alternative way, a shortcut to all His Father’s blessings without the cross. He is asking Him to do it in His own way, as His body demands it, according to His own will and understanding, not according to His Father’s will.
Isn’t that amazing how Satan is tempting us today in the same way he tempted our Lord and Savior!
My friend, this world, our flesh and our enemy, the devil, want us to just take a “look at” the forbidden fruit. We can’t do that unless we reject our God and His word. If we accept his offer, what does he offer us in exchange? Everything that is already ours in Christ Jesus!
Aren’t love, peace, and joy the things we all naturally desire to have? And all these things are ours in Christ Jesus but Satan offers them all to us anyways. They are the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), aren’t they? And they are ONLY found when we choose to stay in the will and plan of God. My friend, our enemy is a liar and a thief. He has NOTHING to give. Jesus took everything from him.
So, next time, when the enemy comes and offers you something with his “discounted price,” say this to him: It is written: “The LORD is my Shepherd, I lack nothing.”
And oh, I have to say this: You see, sometimes when we get tempted to look at something online we are not supposed to, we feel like God doesn’t understand our struggles; but He does. Listen what the Bible says: “For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted IN EVERY WAY, JUST AS WE ARE—yet He did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 – capitalization is mine)
Hallelujah! Jesus was tempted, just like you and I, in every way, even to “to look” at something that has a potential to defile Him. Jesus had tasted the suffering from saying “No” to sin.
Listen to this: “Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, HE IS ABLE TO HELP THOSE WHO ARE BEING TEMPTED.” (Hebrews 2:18 – capitalization is mine) – He is able to HELP us all!
Oh, what a marvelous hope we have in Jesus!
Do not DARE TO underestimate the incomparably great power of God available for YOU who believe. (Ephesians 1:19-20) ///