SECOND AND THIRD TEMPTATION OF CHRIST
Please read the above passage before reading this message. "Then the devil taking Him up on a high mountain , showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give you, and their glory, for this has been delivered to me, and I will give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if you will worship before me all will be yours." And Jesus answered, "Get behind me Satan! For it is written You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve." The first temptation has been overcome, and in another temptation he offers Jesus all the power and glory of all the kingdoms of the world as a gift for falling down and worshiping before him. It is a mystery how Satan could show him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. How Satan could do such a thing is not known. In some unknown way Jesus was taken by Satanic power to a high mountain, but a high mountain alone could not explain the vision Jesus saw. McGarvey, an outstanding commentator, suggests that this mysterious scene was presented only to his mental vision. It is a question whether Satan had such power to give all these kingdoms to Christ or whether it was a boast.. Some commentators in our brotherhood believe that Satan had the power to do what he soffered to Jesus. Many good students of God's word disagree on this matter. However Jesus said that Satan was the father of liars(John8:44)
It is true that Satan exercises in this world an enormous empire which he holds from sin and which he dedicates to the service of sin. He is dedicated to do all the harm he can to God and Christians. He usurped the authority of God over the earth in the garden of Eden. He was not satisfied in overcoming Adam and Eve and ruling over them, but we see him taking the place of Jehovah, the King of heaven, as object of man's obedience. We need only to cast our eyes around us to perceive the fatal power which Satan has acquired over mankind in history, politics, science, art, literature, and everything connected with glory and beauty. Evil dominates all these areas of human knowledge. For this reason Jesus called Satan the prince of the world. That means the ruler of the world. The meaning is he has the power of it. Jesus even spoke of him as the god of this world because he has so much control of religion in the world. But this power Satan said, "has been delivered to me." He said that to Jesus in the temptation we are now studying. This he was obliged to confess to Jesus. Having been delivered to him by God, thus it is not absolute; he exercises whatever power he has under the control of God, who makes it serve the final accomplishment of God's eternal plan to replace the fallen angels of heaven with the redeemed people of earth. That may be why Satan hates the human race so bitterly.
One of the most notable things about the second temptation is that it was presented in the form of a big lie. Jesus said that Satan was the father of liars. Not only is Satan the father of liars, but he is also the father of the biggest lie that has ever been told. Jesus expressed like this. He told Jesus he would give Him all the kingdoms of the world and also their power and glory. I believe that is the biggest lie he ever told. Even if he should have had such power, he would never have given it to Jesus. If you will worship me, he said, I will make you king over all nations of he world. That was the lie of all lies. We call it the big lie. If Christ had accepted this offer, Christ would not have become king over all the earth. Satan would have become the supreme king over all nations. If Jesus submitted to Satan God would have rejected Jesus to be the Savior of the world, and God's redemptive work on earth would have failed. But the attractiveness of this lie was instead of having to conquer all nations of the world with the truth and nothing but the truth, and fight Satan with all his opposition, all this power, glory and honor and kingship over the earth could be had as a gift from Satan. This temptation has something in it much more revolting than the first temptation. The condition to which the empire of the entire world is attached, is nothing short of a compact with the devil.
Jesus no sooner hears this unholy proposal, than He lays aside for a moment the calmness of mind that characterized His resistance, and for the first time calls him Satan by his name which means accuser or hater, and says, "Get behind me Satan, for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only you shall serve." Jesus took these words from Deuteronomy 6:13 where Moses warned Israel when they were about to enter the promised land, "You shall fear the Lord your God and serve Him." Jesus gave the full menaing of the statement by adding these words, "and Him only you shall serve." Again Jesus met this temptation with the famous words, "It is written." Satan made no reply. What Jesus said to Israel and Satan, He says to Christians, to all Americans, and to all nations: "You shall worship the Lord your God; Him only you will serve." God will hold all people accountable for disobedience to that command.
This second temptation reminds us today of an unforgettable event that happened in our lifetime. There was a man whom Satan tried to give the whole world to just some sixty years ago. Satan tempted Adolph Hitler to take over the world for himself and Germany. I know not what his beliefs were regarding Satan, but I believe Satan put the idea in his mind. World War II was originated by Adolph Hitler who had the desire to rule all nations on earth and begin a German Reich or empire that would last for a thousand years. It was all based on a big lie just like the second temptation of Christ. Where he got the idea, from Satan or someone else, it was based on a big lie, and it started World War11. The life was that the German race was superior to all other races in Europe, and all other races must be eliminated and replaced with a pure-blooded German race. The Jewish race was considered an inferior race and mixed Jewish blood with German blood. In addition they believed in God and that belief would hinder Hitler's plan to rule the world. Thus the Jewish race was the first race to be eliminated . You know how he did it. All Europe was conquered in a very short time with the exception of Russia and the British Isles. Somse Military strategists said if Hitler had invaded and conquered the British Isles immediately after taking Europe, it would have been almost impossible to have stopped him. Even though this did not happen, it took the invasion of Europe by the United States with the help of Britain and Russia to finally stop him. This second temptation of Jesus was given to many rulers down the centuries and some of them successfully ruled all nations. In the last 2800 years of human history all nations of the world have been ruled five times by one ruler, one nation over all other nations. Those nations were Assyria, Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece and Italy. Italy has the distinction of being the ruler over all nations twice The Imperial Empire of Rome under the Caesars ruled the entire world for 400 years, and the Church of Papal Rome ruled the whole world with the sword for a thousand years, from 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D. This is all revealed in the Bible. Jesus was not the only person Satan tempted to take over the world, and some could not resist the temptation. I believe all these rulers who have taken over the entire world were tempted by Satan to do so. Mankind would be wise not to underestimate this mighty fallen angel. Satan is the only intelligent explanation we have for the existence of so much evil, war and bloodshed on the earth.
Since Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation," it is clear that all of God's children are exposed to Satanic temptation in one form or another. But however detestable the temptation may be, Jesus has told us how to answer it. "It is written," said Jesus. It is important therefore that we should know always where to go in the Bible, God's word, to find the answer. One example will suffice. One of the most common forms by which Satan proposes to influence man is the lust of riches and wealth. A highly dedicated young man ,Christian or nonchristian, has just entered into business. The hope of making a brilliant fortune takes possession of his mind. How is this hope to be realized? Among good things as hard work and wise planning, other sinful means commonly used to get rich are lies, deceit, injury to fellow human beings, lawsuits, family divisions, neglect to faithfully worship God every Sunday, the Lord's Day. What is this but the devil saying, "If you will serve me, all shall be yours?" How should Satan be answered? Jesus showed how when He said, "Away with you Satan! For it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve." Yet how many people when entangled with evil in the world recognize they have made an alliance with Satan? What Jesus said to Satan on this occasion he says to Christians and all mankind.
The second temptation is finished and Jesus must face a third temptation. Twice overcome, Satan makes a last attempt, and it just might be the most dangerous temptation of them all. The third temptation assumed this form. The Spirit of God had driven Him into the wilderness, and now the spirit of the Devil carried Him to the temple in Jerusalem and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple. The exact location of the pinnacle is not known in this far off time, but it would appear it was the top of the highest building on the Temple compound and to fall from it would have caused immediate death. The Devil said, "If you are the Son of God throw yourself down, for it t is written, He will command His angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands that you will not strike your foot against a stone." What a brilliant test he applied to Jesus! It is as though he said, "You talk so much about God's word, it is written, it is written. Let me tell you something God said about You, something that is written and tell me if you believe it, and prove that you believe it.." Jump off this building, for you won't get killed. God said the angels would not let you hit the ground. You have God's protection. If you are the Son of God prove it by jumping to your death and escape death by the angels catching you before you hit the ground. Behold what knowledge this fallen angel had of the God's revealed word! He can quote scripture. He knows what God has said.
Satan quoted a statement of God in Psalm 91:9-12 about the divine protection God exercises over all His faithful children on earth. These words were poetical and figurative language referring to God's providential protection over His faithful people on earth. In the new Testament God said to Christians, "I will never leave you or forsake you." However God providential protection over the redeemed does not include foolhardy, dangerous and risky conduct that unnecessarily exposes us to loss of life or injury and then expect God to work a miracle to save us. People who jump off tall buildings deserve to be killed. I think this explanation is supported by the answer of Jesus to Satan's temptation. Jesus said, "It is written again, you shall not tempt the Lord your God." That quotation is taken from the book of Deuteronomy 6:16 which says, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God, as you tempted him in Massah." When Israel came out of Egypt, they quarreled with Moses and complained about a lack of water and tempted God saying, " Is God among us or not." Satan misapplied Psalm 91 and asked Jesus to do something God would not have approved of. Had Jesus done what Satan said to do to prove He was God's Son, He would have tempted God to punish him as Israel tempted Him to punish them in the wilderness. The hazardous act of asking Jesus to jump to his death was not according to God's will.
The third temptation raises a very important question. What is tempting God? It is written said Jesus, "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." Why would Jesus have tempted God by throwing Himself from the pinnacle of the temple? To tempt, test or try God is to put God on trial, and thus to test His faithfulness. Faith speaks thus: "God said," and He will perform it. The only pledge He asks of His promise, is the promise itself. It is written in God's word, "And this is the promise that He has promised us, even eternal life"(I John 2:25). The world seduces Christians not to believe ths promise. This is to tempt God. Satan can also tempt us to tempt God. Jesus would have tempted God, if He had thrown Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, for He had neither command nor necessity to impel Him to perform so strange an act. When an unbelieving world demands more evidence to believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, more evidence to believe Jesus arose from the dead, more evidence there is a world beyond this world and more evidence that God has prepared a new heavens and a new earth, this is to tempt God, to try His patience. We too must guard against such suggestions as Satan put to Christ.
Finally, if we are to follow the example of Jesus in meeting the temptations of Satan, we must know the scriptures as Jesus knew them. Do not be astonished that I speak of the knowledge which Christ had of the scriptures. We cannot repeat it too often; even though He was the Son of God, he was likewise the Son of man. It is as the Son of man that He overcame the temptations of Satan. Our life in this world is much like Jesus' life when He was in the wilderness of Judea. How familiar the Bible must have been to Jesus who could quote from it with so much precision, who could use it so effectively in a variety of temptations. Jesus was familiar with the scriptures as we are with the city in we were raised in, whose streets we have known from our infancy, and have crossed and recrossed from end to end. Even each street and square and houses in our neighborhood are engraved on our memory. Thus we ought to know the scriptures. The more precise you are in the use you make of it, the stronger you will be. The writer of Psalm 1 said it well, "Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord and on His law he meditates day and night"(Psalm 1:1-3)*
*Several thoughts in this message are taken from a sermon from a preacher named Dr. Monod. This footnote is found in his sermon: "Dr. Monod acknowledges his indebtedness in some of its paragraphs, to the sermon of Krummacher, on the same subject."