Now That's a Temptation! - Monday, March 2, 2020
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, MARCH 2, 2020
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Matthew 4:8-11, where the Bible says,
Again, the devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
NOW THAT’S A TEMPTATION!
When Jesus is baptized in Matthew 3:13-17, that event publicly identifies Him with sinners as a Savior who is willing to walk in our shoes and even take our place. Forty days later, Satan attacks. He meets Jesus in the desert in order to derail Him from His mission to literally save the world. First comes a temptation to put the goods of this world to work for Himself. Satan tempts a hungry Jesus to use His power to feed Himself to the full. Then Satan tempts Jesus to test God the Father to see if He will really be there for Him when the chips are down. Let’s see if those angels will really protect You when things get tough! But the final temptation is the most overarching of all. Satan offers Jesus the world. Take this, Jesus, be the leader of this world on my terms, not its savior. It’s ironic that if Jesus had accepted Satan’s offer, chances are that many people of the day would have honored and followed Him. Why? Rather than a savior who suffers refection in order to grant eternal life, they were looking for a political savior. Now that’s a temptation today too, right?
So, who rules this world? Whose world is it anyway? And what is Jesus teaching us when He rejects all of Satan’s temptations in our place, all for us, and reasserts the primacy of a worshipful, obedient relationship to God as the most important thing in life? He’s telling us that God is in charge on His terms no matter what the present challenges to the contrary might seem to be. He rules and is ruling the world. Jesus also demonstrates that worshiping the Lord is vital. Furthermore, knowing how His saving work fits into our lives is the most important reality for every human being on the planet.
Jesus reiterates these themes throughout his ministry. He emphasizes how vital faith in God is, even compared to having it all in this world. Remember what Jesus says later in Matthew 10:28-29?
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the
One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus asserts, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). He received it from His Father and thereby renounces Satan’s “supposed” right to even offer the world as his gift.
In the midst of the arrogance of modern society where people who flaunt the things of God seem to not only get away with it, but also prosper, Jesus reminds us to “worship the Lord your God and serve Him only” (quoting Deuteronomy 6:13). So, in a world that continues to unravel before our eyes, fear not. Follow Him. Trust in the clear words of God and trust in the one who overcame the temptations that would have crushed us all. Trust in Him because He has the power to face temptation, to resist temptation, to see us through temptation, and to overcome our sin when we have failed in times of temptation. Satan fraudulently offered Jesus the world if He would only neglect and forget us. Now that was a real temptation, but Jesus’ response assures us that He’s our faithful and victorious Savior!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for being the disciplined, temptation-overcoming Savior that all of us need. Thank You for the blessing of salvation. Then give all of us strength to face our temptations as You did, with the power of Your Word. AMEN.
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