Jesus and the devil direct    Part 2

5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6, And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.” 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” Luke 4:5-8


Once again, those of us who have been impacted by western culture with its hunger for analysis will find this story frustrating for the detail that is not provided. I would love to know HOW Jesus was led to the top of a high mountain. More than that, I would like to go to that mountain to see what Jesus saw. If I was from a different age and personality type I might want to build a monument there – or three. As usual, these issues crowd in and make it harder for us to see what we ARE told.

Spiritual experience is, by definition, subjective. You can describe it, but it is not as easy to provide a way for anyone else to gain an objective appraisal. When Paul was describing one experience in his own life he talked about it like this:

I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 2 Corinthians 12:1,2

Being “caught up to the third heaven” is not something we can measure or analyse. Those of us who trust Paul and what he wrote, would accept what he said even though most of us would not have had any similar experience. The point is that Paul didn’t know whether it was a physical or metaphysical experience. He didn’t know if his physical body was transported to the third heaven or not. The important thing for us to note is that the reality of his encounter with God wasn’t predicated on it. The same could be said for most supernatural experiences.

So, it matters very little whether Jesus and the devil physically left the wilderness and were transported to the top of Mt. Everest or whether he saw it in a vision without leaving his spot in the wilderness. What matters was the fact that he was being offered an alternative means of fulfilling what was, in fact, his divine calling. No need to trudge the dusty roads of Galilee and Judea. No need to be opposed by the religious leaders and misunderstood by his own followers. It could happen with one simple “adjustment”: worship the devil.

Consider for a moment what the devil was appealing to in Jesus. Regardless of the fact that it was Jesus and he was special, the targeted areas of vulnerability were very common. The first targeted his identity as the Son of God using personal needs (i.e. hunger). The second targeted personal ambition by offering a soft core alternative to his God-ordained purpose. I am aware that many people will assume that the devil showed up wearing a red suit and holding a pitchfork. When the text says, “the devil led him…”  we are left in no doubt as to who was there. I am certain that was not the case. As I have already mentioned, I think it matters little what was going on physically or metaphysically. The fact was that Jesus was shown the kingdoms of the world and told that they would be given to him. I am sure he would have known the words of Psalm 2 that referred to his calling and destiny: “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”[1]  It is possible, maybe even likely, that the “vision” of the nations turned up in his consciousness with some sense of legitimacy. If he was about to embark on a process that would culminate in his coronation as King of kings and Lord of lords, such a vision could have been seen in that light.

The presence was made known in the next statement: “And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”  The first sign of iniquity will be found in the idea that the rule of the nations” is about ’authority and splendour.’ That has nothing to do with the heart attitude of the Creator. There is no sense in which authority for its own sake has anything to do with God’s nature. God’s heart is for love and relationship. Where did you see Jesus walking around banging his own drum and beating people over the head with the idea that he was God and King? The power and authority manifest by Jesus was power under, not power over. And the glory sought by Jesus was the glory of the cross – giving people a shot at experiencing the righteousness of God that comes as a gift.[2] Once again, the devil got Jesus totally wrong. Jesus had been born in moral controversy, raised in obscurity and was now on his own in the wilds of Judea. Hardly a pathway to earthly status and splendour. The second giveaway was to be found in the idea that this dominion could be traded for the sake of personal interest. Just consider what that might look like if it were thought to come from God – trading off people and their well being as if it were a bargaining chip???? Then, the final statement was the total giveaway. The cost of this trade to Jesus would be to transfer his primary loyalty, love and commitment. Once again, this is a very common ploy of the enemy, and he has played that card well. I agree with N.T. Wright when he classifies sin as idolatry. We offer what belongs to God alone to other things: self, career, money, power, gratification, lust and so on. In that sense, we have all listened to this empty promise from Satan that we can gain some sort of status and pleasure by giving what belongs to God to someone or something else.


As the presence of the enemy was made known, Jesus was once more able to counter-attack using a quote from Deuteronomy. As previously noted, my own conclusion here is that Jesus was not just sprouting Bible words, but making something known that the devil hadn’t realised. In Paul’s list of weapons, this is the one referred to as “truth.” His righteousness here is seen in the simple fact that he didn’t rise up with indignation. He simply explained what he was not interested in the deal the devil was offering. I’ve seen some people deal with the devil by splashing their own ego and pride over everyone and everything. Jesus simply used a Bible reference to make clear to the devil that he was only going to be worshipping God.

Once again, if you think about this as a weapon, it was hardly something that you pick up and brandish. It wasn’t like that at all. The weapon was Jesus worshipping and serving his heavenly Father for there last thirty years as he grew and worked in his earthly father’s carpentry business. He didn’t turn anything on that day for special effect. He just explained that his primary worship settled. I just wish it was as much a resolved issue for us as it was for Jesus. You can see that this merely ongoing commitment was the weapon. His lifestyle pattern was the weapon. It wasn’t armour that he put on and then took off. Every time he followed after his Father’s will and every time he stood among the worshippers at some local synagogue he was stating his primary loyalty. It was the most settled thing about his life, and it needs to be so for us. When we commit to maintaining our worship and commitment to God through prayer, community, service, ministry worship, being in the Word of God – we are sharpening a weapon that will have the power to rebuff the advances of the enemy in a single word of testimony.


For the second time, the enemy totally gave up on the issue. We all know there was one more issue coming, but it is important to realise that the devil had no counter-attack for what Jesus said. Would that we were engaged in an unchallenged lifestyle of worship and service to God. Just as Jesus only had to make one statement that described the genuine posture of his lifestyle, we could do the same. What was being suggested would be immediately and fully recognised as a ploy of Satan and we would be fully equipped to deal with it. As with Jesus, Satan’s suggestion would have no power.


Without simply repeating what has been said earlier, I have come to realise that these kinds of attacks from the enemy are common to almost everyone. If you can just set aside their idea of a bloke in a red suit appearing in there Judaean wilderness and remember that the devil’s craft is deception, it won’t be hard to identify attacks like this. The challenge to keep God as the one an only god in your life is a constant challenge. The challenge to avoid the soft options the world throws up to us to accomplish a purpose in life is the same. Even if we don’t hear words like “if you worship me it will be yours”  we just have to have a worship stocktake every so often to see what the things are that are shaping our attitudes, priorities, decisions and actions. The shift of primary loyalty (i.e. worship) is often subtle. It will only be detected when we do an audit of our priorities: which things get the first and best of our attention? What things do we spend out money on? What do we give there first and best of our time to? Questions like these need to be asked and answered candidly. Alternatively, you can look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I am a servant and worshipper of God above everything else!” See if you believe what you have said. Where is the evidence? The devil will always be coming at us convincing us we don’t have time for things that used to declare our passion for following God. In the church in my home country it is entirely possible to maintain a reputation for being a committed follower of Jesus, but do almost nothing to be successfully convicted of it by the evidence. Comparing yourself to others won’t give you a reliable reading. And if there isn’t enough evidence from the last twenty-four hours to convict you of being a worshipper of God, then I would say the enemy is winning the battle.

[1]         See Psalm 2:8

[2]         See 2 Corinthians 5:21

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About Brian

Passionate follower of Jesus. Member of a family that keeps on growing because I keep on meeting up with more great people from every nation and background who I belong to because of Jesus. Husband of an amazing woman, father of four forgiving kids and eight almost perfect grandkids. And loving it.