Tuesday, February 26, 2013
40 Days - Tempted in the Desert, part three
The final word the tempter offers to Jesus in the desert is one of authority, power, allegiance, and worship. In Matthew we read, "Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour; and he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me'" (Matthew 4:8-9). The slanderer offers the kingdoms of the earth to the Lord of all creation. The backbiter presents temporal satisfaction to the sovereign ruler of time. All of this in exchange for a promise to worship that which cannot and will not last.
This is the way of the accuser attempting to transform that which is a part of the whole into an ultimate concern in exchange for our allegiance. And often we jump at the chance to receive the glory, the reward, the notoriety that comes along with receiving "the kingdoms of the world."
However, there is something more.
In response to the temptation, Jesus says, "Away with you, Satan! for it is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" Jesus answers the tempter by again referring to the ancient Scriptures of Israel. Jesus paraphrases a text from Deuteronomy (he also quoted Deuteronomy in response to the previous two temptations - see two previous blog posts). This passage is a part of the call to the people of Israel to remember that which God alone has done. The people are called to remember that God alone is worthy of praise and worship. The people are called to live in response to God who alone is faithful and merciful. The people are called to be a people of the covenant of God.
No kingdom of the world can replace the kingdom of God of which we are all a part. Our worship, our devotion, our praise is a response to the steadfast love and mercy of God who alone is faithful and worthy. For it is written, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him."