We now come to the third temptation of Jesus as described in Matthew’s Gospel, but first I need to lay a foundation from which to present the Bridal lesson that we will find there. As there’s quite a lot to cover, this will be part one, and I’ll share part two next time, which will also be the final message on our series “The Bride in the Wilderness”. Throughout this series, we’ve been looking at the parallel of the preparation of the Bride with the preparation of Jesus as the Bridegroom through the temptations He faced having been led by the Spirit into the wilderness. But there was one preparation that took place immediately before the temptations, and this was His baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist. When John initially tried to deter Jesus’ approach to be baptised, our Lord’s response was “let it be so now, for it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness in this way” Matt 3:15 There is much that can be said about His reply, but without taking time here, one thing I believe it demonstrates is the relationship between the Father and the Son, in fulfilling all righteousness.
“Who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Php 2:6-8
When Jesus presented himself to John to be baptised, he was positioning himself to fulfil all righteousness. He positioned Himself with man and became a man, this was Jesus as the Son of Man. He identified with sinful man, and came alongside, and ultimately gave himself up for His Church the Bride Eph 5:25. But also, Jesus surrendered Himself to the will of His Father, for it was the Father who gave the Son John 3:16, and it was the Son who willingly “emptied himself by taking the form of a servant”. Php 2:7. His baptism was a picture of this truth, a visible demonstration that Jesus was presenting himself to do His Father’s will, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” John 6:38. But I should add here to avoid and combat heresy, that in no way and at any time, did Jesus lose His deity or equality within the Trinity. It was about role and relationship within the Trinity and not hierarchy. This is Jesus the Son of God.
The point I am highlighting here is the relationship between the Father and the Son. The two have equality, together with the Holy Spirit, but they have a unique personality and roles within their relationship with each other. In 1 Cor 11:3 it reads, “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” This is the foundation that I want to lay: that the head of Christ is God the Father, let’s remember that as we now look at the third temptation of Jesus as recorded for us in Matthew’s Gospel.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Matt 4:8-10
The nature of this temptation was the offer of the Kingdoms of the world ahead of time. On this occasion the challenge wasn’t “If you are the Son of God”, but “if you fall down and worship me”. The word “fall down” is the word “piptō” and has numerous meanings, like “to be thrust down from a higher to lower place”, “to prostrate oneself as in worship” or “to lose authority, no longer have force”. These can all be applied to the meaning of the word “piptō”. And this was Satan’s challenge to Jesus, he wants to be worshiped and will give anything he can in exchange. This was Satan’s original downfall as detailed in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:14-18. He wants to ascend to the highest place that only God himself can occupy and be worshipped. He couldn’t achieve that in Heaven and was cast down. But now Satan tries again to be above God, and this time the battle takes place upon the earth. If he can’t rise above God, then his attack is to have God the Son fall down before him, which would of course position Satan above Jesus. If this happened, then effectively, the head of Christ would no longer be God the Father but would be Satan himself. In the same way, the church or the bride, is the body of Christ, whose head is Christ, but as we know Satan wants the Bride for himself, and will offer all at his disposal to get her. But more on that next time.
On being taken to the very high mountain, Jesus was elevated to a position where he had a vision of the world and its splendour. We know that Satan offered the Kingdoms of this world to the Lord, on the condition that he would bow down and worship him. And we also know that Jesus neither refuted Satan’s claim upon his authority over the kingdoms of this world, but rather the key issue here wasn’t about the kingdom, but was about righteousness, e.g. right standing, right relationship, right priorities and right timing. Jesus knew that above the power and authority of Satan, was the Sovereignty of His Father, and as John 13:3 says “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;”, also in Rev 11:15 we know “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.”
The temptation here was to take the Kingdom ahead of time. The kingdoms of the world could become Jesus’ at that time, if He would bow the knee to Satan. Of course, this would never be, and Jesus honoured and exalted His Father, or put another way, Jesus honoured His Head who is God, by saying ““Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Matt 4:10 Jesus had no need of what was on offer, for He already knew that all things were His through His relationship with His Father, or His relationship with His Head, and only through His Father (or His Head) would the Kingdoms of this world be given to Him. Once the time was complete, and only the Father would know when this would be, then the Kingdom would be His. In other words, it was because of who Jesus was and the relationship that He had with His Father as His Head, that He had no need to take anything for Himself, and that His destiny would be fulfilled through the Father. Therefore, Jesus reaffirmed the commandment: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’
In the same way, the Bride knows that her destiny will only be fulfilled through her relationship and intimacy with the Bridegroom who is her Head. She will be tempted by the Kingdom, that she can have the kingdom now, but she must wait, for she knows that when the Bridegroom comes, He will share all things with her. She has no need to ask for the Kingdom, her concern and assurance is that she has the heart of the King!