God’s Kingdom God’s Way
“Can we achieve God’s end with evil means?”
In today’s religious and political environment we are either offered or told to compromise our beliefs or values to promote a greater goal. By looking at the story of Jesus’s temptation to power, one can see an alternative to compromising belief. We’ll explore Jesus’s rejection of the devil in favor of crafting the Kingdom of God, God’s way.
The desert temptations of Jesus in the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Luke) occur before Jesus begins his public ministry. Mark merely mentions the temptations of Christ, while Matthew and Luke each give detailed and differing chronological accounts of the temptations. Luke differs with Matthew on the order of the temptations. We’ll use Luke’s account for this post.
In the Lukan account:
So he took him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. The Devil said to him, “I will give you their splendor and all this authority because it has been given over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. If you, then will worship me, all will be Yours”. (Luke 4:5-7)
The Devil offers all for the sake of worship. If Jesus will bind himself to the Devil with worship, then Christ will gain power over the earth.
Christ turns it down…
Let us really consider the offer for a second before moving on. After reading the gospels, does Jesus really seem like the type of dude who would be tempted by the high-roller lifestyle?
I propose the temptation is an offering of power — the power to implement the Kingdom of God.
The second/third temptation of Christ is the offering of control. Jesus could have taken the power given by the devil and implemented the peaceful kingdom where there is no more hunger sadness, or war. Jesus would have been liberator and hero for the Judeans. If anybody could rule effectively, surely it could have been the Christ! Unfortunately, the utopic kingdom offered would have required devil-worship in the most literal sense.
Jesus responds it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only” (Deut. 6:13).
First, Jesus does not reason with the Devil. Jesus does not attack or bargain with the Devil. Jesus uses the Scripture to respond. Second, Christ signifies that the Kingdom of God without God will not work. Power and privilege ill-gotten will not help Jesus fulfill his mission as the Christ.
Jesus did not chose evil means to justify his Godly end
Jesus rejects the Devil’s offer and instead worships God. Christ implements the Kingdom not through bargaining or compromising of values, but rather by expressing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control.
Other good examples of this:
Moses strikes the rock. (Num. 20:18-20)
Saul and the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15)
Help us to bring your Kingdom by expressing the fruit of the spirit. As Jesus literally took up his cross, allow us to take up our own crosses to do our parts in the creation of your Kingdom. The cross is ugly, painful, and terrifying, yet necessary. While bearing our burdens, let us bring healing, life, and peace wherever we go as Jesus brought to the earth. Above all, help us to follow your will throughout our lives.