The Temptation (3)
In the third temptation of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 4, "the devil taketh Him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and he said unto Him, `All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me' " (Matt. 4:8, 9). Satan sought to get Jesus to worship him. If ever the bald-faced audacity of Satan was ever manifested, it was then. The very idea of supreme Deity worshiping Satan is mind boggling. If Jesus had seen fit to fall down and worship Satan, then surely we who are far less in power could do no less than to follow His example. As I said, the consequences of such an action would have shaken the foundations of reason itself.
What was the appeal of this temptation? God had promised Jesus the "obedience of the peoples" (Gen. 49:10); "the nations for throe inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession" (Psa. 2:8). For Jesus to follow God's way to the throne on the "holy hill of Zion" led to the cross. It was the hard way, the sacrificial way. Satan's way was easy. All Jesus had to do was to fall down and worship him. If He had done that, being who He was, Deity would have been divided. Deity would have submitted to an inferior being's power. The scheme of redemption would have been completely thwarted.
Jesus answered Satan, "Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, 'Thou shaft worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shaft thou serve"' (Matt. 4:10). For the third time Jesus quoted from Deuteronomy (6:13). Moses warned the people that when they went into the land, they were not to follow after the idols. One may make a god out of anything. Satan wanted to exchange himself for God and let Jesus worship him, but Jesus refused. "Thou shaft worship the Lord thy God and Him only shaft thou serve."
It will be profitable to look at a few reasons why Jesus was perfect. They are exemplified in the temptation accounts. We blame sin on our human bodies, but Jesus had a human body and did not sin. Sin comes from the heart. It is the heart which allows the desires of the body to become lust. Surely the divine nature of Jesus is the ultimate explanation of His complete, lifelong perfection. There are, however, two things which we may study with great benefit. One reason why Jesus never sinned is that He was not ignorant. He knew everything that was right. Many times we sin because we do not know. We have not studied and learned. The more we know of God's way the better we wilt be able to walk in it. Another reason why Jesus never singed is that He always did what He knew was right. How often do we get to the end of a day and say, "I should have done this or that," and did not do it? We can improve our service to God without learning anything else if we will immediately begin to do more of what we already know we should do. We can then further improve by studying the scriptures more diligently. Let us be imitators of Christ and "resist the devil and he will flee from you" (Jas. 4:7).
Truth Magazine XXIII: 33, p. 533