Saturday, May 25, 2013

I'll give you everything....

In the events of Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus was hungry, starving, exhausted and hot, wandering the wilderness of Judea.  For forty days, he had nothing to eat... and in that moment of absolute physical weakness, Satan believed he had an opportunity to derail Jesus.  He wanted to cause Jesus to stumble, to sin.  After all, it would take only what we would think of as the "smallest of sins" on Jesus' part to annihilate any hope for mankind.  The only reason Jesus could die on the cross and take away all our sins, and the punishment that came with them, is because He is sinless.  One misstep and humanity has lost salvation and the chance to be defined, not by our failings, but by God's perfection.  It had worked with Adam, so Satan thought he could swing it again with Jesus.

I find his third, and final, attempt to cause Jesus to sin particularly interesting:

"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.'" 
- Matthew 4:8-9(NIV)

Satan promised to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world - that means he offered Jesus Rome in the height of its power, the Chinese empire under the Han dynasty, the Kushan Empire, the 3 Kingdoms of Korea, Yayoi Japan, all the tribes of Africa and North America... essentially, Satan offered the whole of the world to Jesus, just for the "teeny-tiny" price of worshiping the Father of Lies.  

What I find interesting is that Satan offers Jesus something that is not his to provide.  Genesis 2:4(NIV) states that "the LORD God made the earth and the heavens," i.e., God made everything.  That means everything is His and all that we might perceive we "have" is something God has given to us.  So how can Satan offer the kingdoms of this world?  Jesus, who states "I and the Father are one" in John 10:30(NIV), already possesses all the world.

But isn't that how Satan always works?  He offers us ANYTHING and EVERYTHING so that we will go along with his little whispered suggestions in our ear.  He offers you FUN; he offers you JOY; he offers you LOVE; he offers you SATISFACTION; he offers you PEACE; he offers you MEANING; he offers you PLEASURE... he suggests that a life in Christ can't give you this.  "Jesus is boring; Jesus isn't fun; Jesus can't give you the love you need; if you follow Jesus you can't HAVE what you really want and need; Jesus only makes demands, He can't give you peace..." Satan whispers... and over and over again we buy it.  With our words and actions we bow down and worship the things of this life, convinced they will give us fun, joy, love, satisfaction, peace, meaning, pleasure... but these are things that are not Satan's to provide.

"Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."
- James 1:16-17(NIV)

This world can never provide you with the desires of your heart.  The things that are offered here are pale, weak imitations of the life God wants to give you, of the life Jesus died to give you.  You know what Jesus said to Satan's offer?

"Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 
- Matthew 4:10(NIV)


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