“Then the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’’ Jesus responded, ‘The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the LORD your God.’’” (Luke 4:9-12, NLT)
In this final temptation, Satan took Jesus to the top of the Temple, the tallest building in the area. The “highest point of the Temple” probably would have been the corner wall that jutted out of the hillside, overlooking the valley below. Here we see that Satan changed his tactics as he tried to appeal to ego, to pride. He challenged Jesus to prove his identity, to show off to the world that he was God’s Son. “Do something spectacular,” Satan was saying, “Make a grand entrance to let everyone know who you are! You’re more than a carpenter’s son – you are the Son of God! You’ll be famous. Display your power!” And what a great show it would have been: Jesus hurtling toward the group but rescued dramatically, at the last moment, by angels!
Satan doesn’t denied Jesus’ deity. He knew very well that Jesus is the Son of God (and Jesus doesn’t denied it either). So what was this temptation all about? This temptation epitomizes the third category of what the “world offers” – pride in who we are and what we have done (1 John 2:16). This was another blatant attempt to side-track Jesus from fulfilling his purpose, which was to humble “himself in obedience to God” and die “a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus rebuffed this temptation by affirming his deity as he quoted Deuteronomy 6:16: “You must not test the LORD your God.”
Think about this: The appeal to pride is a huge temptation in our society today. Everyone seems to be seeking the spotlight, self-promoting, trying to gain that moment of fame, to be the next big thing, to be a star. Many people, even believers, will compromise their morals values, faith, and goals to fulfil this lust for popularity, significance, to be known and fame. But not Jesus and his followers. Jesus’ way is humility, and he promises that “those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” (Matthew 20:16). Many of the most ‘insignificant’ people in the world will be great in Christ’s Kingdom. What matter is not how many events we organized and attended or preaching great sermons or awesome Church building project or the quality of our praise and worship sessions or whatever we do in the name of religion to gain personal popularity and fame; what matter is how we measure up to God’s standards, not the world’s – what matter is how God think.
Take a quiet time for yourself before the Lord today,
Examine your own pursuits of popularity or relevance.
Ask God to shift your personal longings to a strong desire for his glory
and his purposes in the world. Seek Jesus to be humble. Amen.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.