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).
The accomplishment of reaching all nations in one fell swoop! That’s what Satan offered Jesus in this temptation. There is a reason Satan is called the god of this age. He has real (though usurped) authority on earth.
It was a serious offer. Yet, Jesus turned it down, even though the end result seemed to fit His ultimate purposes. In three years Jesus would give His disciples the Great Commission, commanding them to go into all the world. It’s taken at least 2,000 years to even come close to completion. And it could have been accomplished in a snap if Jesus had agreed to Satan’s proposal (assuming that the great liar would fulfill his end of the bargain once he had gotten his way).
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Have you noticed how easy it is to talk yourself into doing the wrong thing for the right reason? When we make the end result our goal, it’s possible to make a lot of really bad decisions in order to achieve the goal. In the kingdom of God, however, the end does not justify the means. How one gets there, the journey itself, is more important than any accomplishment. God doesn’t call us to success as the world sees it, but to faithfulness.
Jesus rejected the immediate offer to become the ruler of all nations because the means (worshipping Satan) was an offense to His Father. In a very real sense, Jesus at this point turned from worldly power to the Cross. He turned from the most amazing offer made to any man on earth, and instead embraced God’s plan to save the world through dying on that Cross.
Jesus Christ will indeed one day be worshipped by all nations. But He had to reject the immediate horizontal power for the long slow walk to Calvary that kept Him vertically focused on His Father.
Father, I thank You for the wisdom and obedience of Jesus that resulted in my salvation. Thank You Lord, for patiently waiting for thousands of years to be fully embraced as King of Kings and Lord of Lords by every creature. Give me the commitment to obedience and the wisdom to walk the road You have chosen for me in order to fulfill Your intentions. Help me to reject shortcuts and press into Your more perfect purposes.
–Adapted from Vertical with Jesus: A 30-Day Journey to Impact Kingdom Living by David and Kim Butts. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
Adore the merciful God who has given you “new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3). Give thanks that you have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you” (1:4). Seek God’s forgiveness as you confess times when you fail to maintain your hope. Commit yourself to seeing trials as opportunities in which your faith “may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” (1:7). Ask God to fill you “with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1:8-9).
The Lord says, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isa. 1:18). Pray that unsaved persons will understand that God desires to forgive and that they will seek that forgiveness.
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