Image by Steven Su on Unsplash

In the second recorded temptation, Satan takes Jesus to a high mountain, shows Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time and says,

All this authority I will give You, and their glory for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.

Luke 4:6-7 nkjv

In the Gospel of John, Satan is occasionally referred to as the “prince” or “ruler of this world” (see John 12:31 and 14:30). This ‘authority’ as prince of the world was given to him at the fall when Adam and Eve listened to him, disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 3).

You submit to whatever you obey, and in the case of Adam and Eve, they submitted to the devil and obeyed his suggestion. When God created Adam and Eve, the Bible says

… God blessed them [granting them certain authority] and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subjugate it [putting it under your power]; and rule over (dominate) the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

Genesis 1:28 amp

Strong language in the Amplified version – subjugate, put under your power, rule over, dominate. This was Adam and Eve’s responsibility as stewards of the earth. But all this was surrendered to Satan when Adam and Eve chose to obey him and not God. Since then, Satan has been granted the authority to subjugate, put under his power, rule over and dominate the earth.

Not a good place for us to be.

And here he is, offering all of this to Jesus if only Jesus will do one thing: worship him.

Okay, I’m sure there are many alarm bells going off in your mind and Jesus’ response is obvious because there’s NO WAY He would ever worship the devil because He’s already so much greater than him, so why would this even be a temptation for Jesus?!

I considered this, and thought that Jesus is so much more powerful than Satan, so any and every temptation Satan throws at Jesus is never going to have an effect on Him. But I also thought that surely there’s a reason this specific temptation was included in the three temptations recorded.

The more I thought about this, the more I found that this temptation shows us that what can often appear to be exactly what we want, is actually the exact opposite of what we want. Let me explain.

Jesus came to save the world (John 3:16-17). Here, Satan is offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world in an instant if only He worships him. Surely saving the world would be easier if you have authority over it? Satan suggests Jesus now has the world in His reach, possibly taking away the need for Him to go to the cross, and He only has to do one thing. But let’s look at this thing He would have to do.

In this temptation, in order to get all the authority of the world, Jesus would need to bow down and worship Satan.

What does this mean for what Jesus supposedly receives?

Well, if the authority of the world is given to Jesus and Jesus bows down to Satan, then the authority of the world is still subject to Satan.

So, what would have changed if Jesus had given in to this temptation?

Nothing good.

Jesus would have been subject to Satan and we wouldn’t be saved.

An interesting thing to note is that, like the previous temptation, this temptation also attempts to take Jesus away from God (to worship Satan) and to take Jesus away from His call (to save humanity).

What does this mean for us?

I think it means a few things.

Firstly, this temptation alerts me to the fact that when we are quickly and suddenly presented with what we greatly desire, it may not be the best thing. It may even lead us to more trouble. The process with God is just as important as the end result, as it is often from the process that the end result is birthed. Yes, the process may be painful at times, but without it we may never get to where God wants us to be.

This is not to say that when something that you’ve been longing for quickly comes to you it’s a bad thing – definitely not. What I am saying here, is that we need to carefully consider where this sudden ‘gift’ is coming from and what it is that we are required to do for it. In the temptation, Satan required Jesus to worship him in order to get all the authority of the world. Does obtaining the gift/desire require you to do something that is against God’s ways? Having this discernment this is vital, and leads me to the next point.

This temptation reminds me to be vigilant and stick close to God. This temptation, once again, shows how crafty Satan is. He is well aware of what we want, and so will bring things across our path that look so much like what we want, but with a catch that will, quite literally, catch us out. The Bible is true when it says “the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). It’s so important for us to stick close to God and to know His ways so that we do not fall prey to the devil’s schemes.

In the next post, we will look at how Jesus rebuked this temptation and what we can learn from the way He did it when we face similar temptations.

I hope this post has provided some food for thought. Looking at these temptations in more detail has opened up so much more meaning and strategy for me, and I hope it’s done so for you too. I’ve also found great comfort in them, because Jesus took on these temptations as a man and overcame them. I believe studying them, learning how they are presented and how Jesus overpowered their power is key for when we face temptations and how we can overcome them.

One thought on “Temptation: Worship Me and All This Will be Yours

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