Sunday, February 10, 2008

Matthew 4:8-11 The Temptation of Jesus Part V

Probably the clearest picture of the motives of Satan in the Bible is found in Isaiah chapter 14. Ultimately, Satan wants to usurp power, glory, and authority from the Lord. We see him, in this last temptation recorded in Matthew, at his most arrogant. We see our Savoir demonstrate His unwavering devotion to God the Father and find for ourselves an example of the kind of faithfulness that we as followers of Christ are called to in our lives.

We notice that the setting has changed for this last temptation as recorded in Matthew. Satan has conducted Jesus to some “very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory”. The parallel passage in Luke 4 adds that the devil made this presentation in “a moment in time”. The picture that seems to be painted is that the devil showed our Lord all that could be seen from the top of this unnamed precipice and supernaturally showed a vision of the kingdoms of the world. Certainly, this would have been a magnificent sight. Rome was the most recent in a fairly impressive line of ancient civilizations including Babylon, Persia, and Greece. From a purely human standpoint, these societies had produced wonders in art, literature, politics, and architecture. Of course, viewed from the perspective of almighty God they were sinful, petty examples of man at his worst. Measured by purely human standards, however, their glory was unsurpassed.

In the midst of this glory, which was the height of human glory, Satan makes his most bold, presumptuous challenge of the three. He says to our Lord, in verse 9, that he would give Jesus all of the things that he showed Him. There was just one small catch. He said he would give these things to Christ if “You will bow down and worship me”. The creature here demands worship from the Creator. The clay calls for homage from the Potter. There is a reason that scripture teaches that “pride goes before destruction”. Satan, even in his state as a defeated foe, stands arrogantly demanding worship from God Incarnate.

We should remember as we study this that Satan did (and does) have a measure of authority over this earth. In John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11, our Lord calls Satan “the prince of this world”. We read in Daniel how demons sent by Satan interfere in human governments (Daniel 10:13). With this in mind, it is reasonable to assume that he could have given a measure of authority to Christ. Of course, we know that at the end of everything that our Lord will in fact be crowned King over all creation to the glory of God the Father. In this temptation, we see Satan trying to tempt Jesus with a shortcut to the kingdom. In other words, would He remain faithful to the Father and be obedient to the Father’s plan which included suffering or would He worship Satan to obtain the kingdom without the pain and suffering He would face as the Lamb of God.

You and I, of course, are never going to be offered the kingdoms of the world by Satan. However, as we think about our lives and situations that we face, there are times where our devotion to God is questioned in much the same way. Be it at work or at home, we also have to make decisions daily to obey God and choose His way rather than a way that might seem quicker, easier, or less painful. Our Lord, here, provides for us a pattern that we should follow when we come into situations like that.

He responds in verse 10 by saying “Go, Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” In the New King James version, the Lord is quoted as saying “Away with you, Satan.” ** In any case, He had simply, up to this point, quoted holy scripture to refute the tests of the devil. However, in the face of blatant blasphemy, He exercise His divine authority and calls for Satan to leave. He quotes Deuteronomy 6:13 saying “you shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only”. The English word “worship” translates a Greek word “proskuneo” which means to prostrate oneself or bow in worship (see Matthew 2:2). This is one kind of worship that we should give to God. The idea of reverently presenting ourselves to God in a manner that shows our hearts are humble is certainly important in worship. Jesus also says that we should “serve” God. The word translated “serve” is “latreuo” which probably comes from the Greek word “latris” which means a servant. This word is translated as “worship” in Romans 12:1. Basically, it means to render spiritual service. Jesus is saying, then, that God is the only one worthy not only of us humbling ourselves before Him but He is also worthy of our acts of service which we perform in His name. No one else in the universe deserves the loyalty that we should have for God, certainly not the prince of this world, Satan.

We see that in verse 11 after having successfully passed these tests and demonstrated His faithfulness to the Father, that the Father did indeed meet His needs. The adversary, Satan, left Him and “angels came and began to minister to Him”. “Diakoneo” is the word rendered “minister” and it means to provide physically for someone’s needs. Jesus waited on the Father and the Father in due time provided what He needed. You and I would do well to remember these lessons we have learned as we have studied about our Lord’s time of testing. The same God the provided for Christ in His time of trial will also provide for us who are His dear children.

Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible Copyright 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

If you have been following this blog for any time or if you have gone back and read any of my other posts, you may notice that I have started using a different Bible translation with these past two posts. In case anyone was wondering, I made this change based on personal research I have done regarding New Testament texts. Now, when I say research, I mean what I have read about the subject from various sources I have available to me. I’ve never been to seminary and am neither competent nor qualified to present much of an argument as to which New Testament text is 100% closer to the autographs. I will probably continue to use the New King James as I study because I really like the text footnotes. I’m sure everyone has their own opinions on the subject.

That’s just my two cents for anyone who might have been curious. I know that some Christians are convicted that the Alexandrian text (the one used to translate most Bibles published since the late 1880’s) was produced by people who were trying to corrupt Christian doctrine. If that is the case, then they did a rotten job of it. In the end, there is not one doctrine of Christianity that is weakened regardless of the text the reader chooses.

in Christ


MJK said...

"The creature here demands worship from the Creator. The clay calls for homage from the Potter." A good point nicely put. Keep in the Word Joe!
~ Mike

Joe Blackmon said...

Thanks for the encouragement, sir.

in Christ