WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, February 27, 2023 - NOW THAT’S A TEMPTATION!
WORD FROM THE CENTER: MONDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2023
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s passage is Matthew 4:8-11 where the Bible tells us one of the ways in which the devil tempted Jesus.
Again, the devil took him 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!
Jesus’ baptism publicly identified Him with sinners, as a Savior who was willing to walk in our shoes and even take our place (Matthew 3:13-17). Soon after Jesus is baptized, Satan attacks. He meets Jesus in the desert to derail Him from His mission to literally save the world. First, it’s a temptation to put the goods of this world to work for self. After 40 days of fasting, Satan tempts Jesus to put His power to work to feed Himself to the full (4:2-4). 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 (4:5-7). But the final temptation in our reading 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 even the religious people of the day would have honored and followed Him. Why? They too were looking for a political messiah, not an eternal life Savior from sin, death, and even Satan himself.
So, who rules the world? Whose world is it anyway? And what is Jesus telling us when He rejects all of Satan’s temptations in our place, for all of us, and also 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 be. God rules and is ruling the world. Jesus also demonstrates that worship of the Lord is a priority, both now and forever. Knowing how God’s saving work fits into that reality is the most important thing for every human being on the planet.
Jesus reiterates these themes throughout his ministry. He emphasizes how vital faith in God is, even in comparison to “having it all” in this world. Later in Matthew 10:28-29, Jesus says:
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.
Jesus later asserts that “all authority in heaven and earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). This challenges Satan’s right to even offer the world as his “supposed” gift.
So, 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 even prosper, Jesus reminds you to “worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.” In a world that continues to unravel before your very eyes, fear not. Follow Jesus. Trust in the clear words of God and trust in the one who could overcome the temptations that would have crushed us all. Trust in Him, because He has the power to face temptation, to overcome temptation, to see us through temptation, and to overcome our sin when we fail in times of temptation. Satan offered Jesus the world if He would only neglect and forget us. That’s was a temptation, but this lesson reminds us that Jesus resisted it, because He is our faithful Savior!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for being the disciplined, “temptation-overcoming” Savior that all of us need. Thank You for the blessings of Your salvation, and give all of us strength to face our temptations with the power of Your Word. AMEN.
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