The Wilderness Temptation and the Coronavirus Pandemic (Part 4)
Reading: Matthew 4:8-11
This third temptation of Jesus is the offer of “all that glitters” and the “gold.” All that glitters isn’t gold but it sure does catch our attention, doesn’t it? In fact, it may be some of the most tempting stuff we deal with. The splendor of this world catches our eye and draws us away. Jesus is offered the kingdoms of the world and their splendor—not just the glitter, but the earthly gold as well.
The World’s Kingdom and Their Splendor
John refers to it as “the lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16) and tells us that anyone who loves the world (the stuff of this world) does not have the love of the Father in Him. Why? Because we will frequently have to choose between the stuff of the world and the love of the Father. (Whether this “love of the Father” is love for the Father or having the Father’s love others is somewhat irrelevant. For John, one cannot have love for the Father without having love for others. See 1 John 4:20.) Jesus was not tricked by this temptation. He had the love of the Father in Him.
The kingdoms of this world tempt us to put our trust in them. In Jesus’ time, it was the Pax Romana, the Peace of Rome. It was peace at the end of a sword. It was peace of and for the powerful. Jesus was being offered a taste of the power. Jesus chose the path of the cross rather than the path to power. We are all faced with the same choice.
Jesus chose the path of the cross rather than the path to power. We are all faced with the same choice.
Of course, most people wouldn’t literally bow down and worship Satan, but some of us do so metaphorically, by what consumes us? Has this pandemic revealed that our security was in the right or wrong place? … in the stock market, or the economy, or the well-stocked grocery store? … in God?
Of that which has been taken away, what grieves you most? Whether glitter or gold, it may reveal ways we’ve given into the temptation which earthly kingdoms and their splendor present. Are you pursuing those things of the earthly kingdom, or of the heavenly kingdom?
Heaven’s Kingdom and It’s Splendor
Satan’s offer to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor (Matt. 4:8) is set immediately before “Jesus began to preach, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matt. 4:17). The heavenly kingdom juxtaposed with the earthly kingdoms. Satan’s offer is a counterfeit version of what Jesus offers. Satan lures, “Bow down and I will give it to you” (sounds easy, right?); Jesus calls, “Change how you live (repent), for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Jesus calls us to a transformed way of living! That is how we are called to worship: “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1).
Reflecting the image of God, that is true splendor!
Christ’s call offers a splendor of its own. The word “splendor” (Matt. 4:8) is a translation of the same word most often translated “glory.” The world offers one glory; Christ’s kingdom offers another. Paul describes it “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). The “glory” of the believer is being in the image and likeness of God, a goal only truly achieved when “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). Reflecting the image of God, that is true splendor! A splendor so great that one day the stuff we think of as having great value on earth (gold), will be used to pave the streets of the place we are going (Rev. 21:21).
During this pandemic, are you walking out the changed life of repentance in order to experience the heavenly kingdom or bowing down to the glitter and gold of the kingdoms of this world? May the Lord make clear what the path of the cross looks like for us during this time.
Love the Gospel, Live the Gospel, Advance the Gospel,