Jesus Rejected Making Life All About Himself

Satan’s experience in exploiting fleshly desires and weaknesses had been honed over thousands of years. All of this dark cunning would be focused and unleashed against Jesus in the wilderness. As would soon be clear, to destroy Jesus under the weight of sin was his prime objective at any cost.
Having denied himself food in the desert, Jesus’ physical state was weakened. The dark prince, seeing his opportunity, insidiously appeared as a caring friend. Heels of resistance can dig in when someone is obviously against you. And so, just as a seemingly concerned colleague might suggest, “if you have an expense account, use a little of it for a night out with the spouse,” so too Satan enticed, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread” (Matthew 4:3).
Sinister forces had spun their dark interpretation of the situation, “it’s all about you Jesus. It’s all about your hunger. It’s all about sustaining your physical life. If you have authority and power, go ahead and use a little for yourself. You deserve it. You are worth it.”
Even in his weakened state, Jesus had not lost sight of the big picture. Life, filled with its successive little scenarios, is for serving God and his will. Light broke forth as Jesus proclaimed, “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone.” Satan had portrayed the moment as excluding God from the equation. He centered all considerations upon Jesus. Jesus countered by placing the Sustainer at the heart of this life decision.
Taking Jesus to the highest point of the temple, he struck again. Imagine the spectacle of free falling toward the bustling heart of God’s people at the temple only to be suddenly caught by angels appearing from nowhere to come to the rescue. What a religious statement! What validation of Jesus’ importance to God! So Satan reminded Jesus that the Scriptures revealed there would be no danger if he was the Son of God. If you are the Son of God, jump! Let the crowds be amazed! Jesus, do you have enough faith? Jesus, are you confident about your identity?
Rather than allow someone to distort his earthly life as though it revolved around himself, Jesus evaluated the proposal in light of God’s will. Jumping would involve testing God. To jump or not to jump with the accompanying statements about his faith, his validation or anything else about himself was not the question. The question was, would Jesus enter into a situation to test and prove God? Jesus said, “it is written, ‘you shall not test the Lord your God.'”
In a moment of time, the Adversary showed Jesus the glory and splendor of the world. The power of the empires, the crowds, the splendor must have been impressive. Satan then unveiled a blinding offer placing Jesus center stage in the bright lights of glory. Jesus, you will get all this glory I have just shown you, if you will just worship me. Although the Adversary may not have understood the cross, Jesus did. Here was a path that did not require the Messiah to suffer in order to become Lord of the nations. Would Jesus allow this opportunity to become all about his comfort, about receiving the glory of the nations he deserved? Analyzing the offer in view of God’s will, Jesus responded, “it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'” God’s will is to infuse not only the goal, but also the way. The end is not justified by the means.
Does our adversary work so differently today? How often does he tempt us with: “You have been hurt so deeply, you should not have to forgive.” “You deserve better, so take what is rightfully yours.” “What matters is your opinion, that’s where it is at.” It seems as though frequently we are tempted to acquire a tunnel vision excluding God, in order to nurse the thought, “what will this do for me?” Satan has millenia of experience. We have Jesus’ solution for the temptations.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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