In Matthew 4:8-10, Jesus is tempted in a conversation that went like this:
Satan: “I will give you all the kingdoms of the world if you just fall down and worship me.”
Jesus: “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and He only shall you serve.’”
I feel this would be a pretty appealing temptation for Jesus. I mean, an argument could be made that Satan was going to give Jesus what he came to earth to accomplish. Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that God wanted Jesus to have “the name that is above every name so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!” In other words, God wanted to give Jesus all authority and power, so why not take it now? This was a temptation to shortcut the long and tedious process of winning the right way, a temptation that would be especially intriguing to someone who knew that the right way would lead to crucifixion and death. This doesn’t sound like a terrible option to me. I mean, it would fast-track his whole movement, and wouldn’t the ends justify the means?
This is reason #4392, as to why you should worship Jesus, and not me.
Jesus clearly didn’t think this way. He didn’t even hesitate with this temptation to take the shortcut to power. In fact, before he quotes the scripture above and without even taking a moment to reflect on this temptation, Jesus says, “Be gone, Satan!” And get this, Satan leaves. I love this! Satan was tempting Jesus with the power he didn’t even have in the first place. If Satan were the one with power, then he’d be the one commanding Jesus to do things. Instead, when Jesus, being Almighty God in human form, says the word, Satan listens and leaves.
So, Jesus definitely had power… in fact, he had ALL POWER! But he didn’t use it the way that Satan wanted him to and he didn’t use it the way that most of us would have. And this is actually the thing that makes Jesus so powerful: his unwillingness to use power to his own advantage (see Phil 2:6 NIV). There have been countless leaders who have lived before and after Jesus, who have ruled with power. Some have done good things, some have done terrible things, but all of them used power for themselves. To this day, you could add up all the rulers and kings and queens and presidents and leaders who have ever lived and they still wouldn’t have the influence that this carpenter from Nazareth has.
Why? Because while those other leaders led out of a love of power, Jesus leads out of the power of love. He knew that there was no use forcing people to follow him. It had to be a choice. A free choice. So, what are you going to choose today? Will you follow Jesus as King? I hope you do.