Luke 4:5-8 The devil led him (Jesus) up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’ ”
I received a phone call from my internet provider this past week. The man on the other end of the line promised me that he would offer me deal that would really benefit me. Before he could continue I asked him if it would save me money. He ignored my question and kept saying that he wanted to ask me a few things first. I pestered him enough until he told me “yes.” So, I listened to a long explanation about how much faster my internet would be and how many more international minutes I’d have for calling. Unfortunately, in order for me to save money on my internet bill I would have to take their deal for a tv package too. Sometimes advertisers twist their truths and give false promises so that we think we need what they are selling us.
A second temptation that Jesus faced in the wilderness was something similar … with much bigger consequences. Jesus knew his purpose was to bring restoration between God and us again. He knew it would cost him. The devil caught him out when he was exhausted, both mentally and physically. “I’ve got a great deal for you!” he says, “It will really benefit you.” Jesus wouldn’t have to go through the next three years that we call his ministry years. He wouldn’t have to travel from town to town while putting up with a bunch of moaning people following him. He wouldn’t have to have the responsibility of saving the world. He could just coast his way through life. All he would have to do was one simple and seemingly harmless thing – worship the devil, just once. For one moment, take a look at the destruction that Satan has caused on the earth and say he is the greatest. It’s twisted. It’s false. To us, it’s obvious.
Recognizing the twisted truths and false promises in our own lives is far more difficult. What do we believe that is so close to truth that we don’t even see it? What gets in the way of worshiping God and serving him only? Who or what do we think is more powerful and great than God? The easy answer is: “Nothing.” But what about our fear? What about our boss? What about our hunger? What about our suffering? What about our pride? What about our money? What about our hobbies? What about our religious beliefs, or lack thereof? What about our work ethic? What about our jealousy? What about our hatred? It is easily done … and so obvious when we are looking back at it. Seeing God as bigger and more worthy of our thoughts just because of who he is, is tough.
Walking with Jesus through the wilderness means worshiping God alone and recognizing false advertisements that come our way. Adam and Eve missed it the first time around. They took the devil up on his boasts about the benefit of knowing good and evil. Jesus didn’t. We don’t have to either.
Talk to God about the things that have become more important and powerful in your life than him. Ask him to show you his truth about those things. When you are done, take a minute of silence and think about the greatness of God.
This week of Lent will be dedicated to learning what it is to worship God and serve him only.