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.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
(Matthew 4:8-10 ESV)
We are currently studying a passage in which Jesus is put to the test by Satan (with God’s approval) in much the same way each of us is tested in life. Unlike us, however, Jesus passes all these tests – never sinning – proving that He is deity in a human body.
After trying and failing to get Jesus to act independently of God and then to test God’s promises, Satan tries one more time. In today’s passage Satan tempts Jesus into circumventing God’s timetable.
God’s plan has always been to give the world to His son as a possession [Psalm 2:7-8; Matthew 28:18]. But first the son had to leave heaven, become human, and die. Then he had to ascend to heaven and wait for the right time to return to earth at which time he will rule the planet for 1,000 years.
After that, the earth will be destroyed and a new earth created. It is at that time that Jesus will finally get to reign forever. That’s a lot of waiting, not to mention having to endure the difficulties of human life and the agony of being nailed to a piece of wood.
Satan offered Jesus a shortcut.
If Jesus would bow down and worship [Satan], then Satan would give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world right then and there. Jesus could bypass the rejection… He could bypass the humiliation… He could bypass the pain, if He would only do things Satan’s way.
Everyone of us faces this type of dilemma daily. We think its best to get what we want as quickly as possible without having to make as many sacrifices or wait. So we take shortcuts through life. We lie. We steal. We manipulate. In other words, we do things Satan’s way.
But getting something faster under such conditions isn’t necessarily better. Oftentimes the things we enjoy receiving the most are the things we’ve worked the hardest for and waited the longest for. In the process God also builds our character including traits such as patience, which is one of the things God is trying to develop in His children – those who have eternal life because they’ve believed in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins [John 3:3, 20:31 et. al].
God’s goal for us is not to have man-made things like prestige or money or possessions. His goal for us is to become like Jesus [Romans 8:29].
Jesus could have had the world a lot faster and without nearly as much hassle if He circumvented God’s plan. But He also knew that the price to be paid for such a compromise wasn’t worth it. Worshipping Satan – which is what each of us do when we sin – is never worth it. Better to worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.
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