So, just a quick recap to get us all on the same page we have been exploring….
- How Matthew as the evangelist, who wrote specifically to Israel, delves deeply into Old Testament themes and imagery in his presentations of Jesus’ life and ever seeks to address the question “is Jesus really the true son of God and what does the mean.”
- We looked at the various tensions and paradoxes of Satan’s relationship with God and it is worth mentioning therefore us as God’s beloved in Christ.
- We explored just how Jesus proves he is the Son of God by his divinely inspired use of Scripture against his opponent.
- And most of all, we have touched on the amazing fact that all this is for our sake, and that this same power lives and works in us.
- Just do it!
A few years ago now the sports brand Nike, came up with a slogan that we’re all now probably familiar with ‘just do it.’ It’s an inspired piece of advertising for an athletics brand isn’t it? Have you ever been so keen to restart their own exercise routine and shed those pounds and yet if you’re like me you find some excuse that gets in the way of starting? But you may also have reached a day when you take yourself by the scruff of the neck and in complete exasperation exclaim “oh just do it!”
I wonder if that is sort of what is happening here (but in a negative sense);
Matthew 4:8-11 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”
Now seeing as there is no existing mountain from which you can view all the world’s kingdoms, it would suggest that this is some sort of vision. But the word ‘mountain’ does echo a few things from the O.T. especially in the context of kingdoms. Of course Matthew writing to the Jews, utilizes this imagery. Here’s three strands that I can think of
- Firstly, it echoes the famous passage where Moses climbs up to the mountain top to see all the Promised Land before he died at the end of Deuteronomy. The great prophet who knew God face to face as his last act climbs the mountain.
- Secondly, the great contest over the kingdom of Israel between Yahweh and Baal and his 450 prophets on Mount Carmel.
- Thirdly in Matthew, Jesus specifically begins to proclaim the kingdom of God not in the synagogue, but on the mountain.
- But finally and most importantly, it foreshadows the announcement in Matthew 28:18 by the resurrected Jesus from the mountaintop that he now has dominion over all things both on earth and in heaven.
This sets the tone for the last response from Jesus as opposed to the previous two. This response looks forward.
But before we get to that, there is a few things missing in Satan’s question that suggests that he’s running out of tricks.
Gone is the conniving and crafty play on words and carefully structured questions.
Gone is Satan’s reasoning from scripture and the promises of the Father.
He steps out from behind the mask and says “just do it, come on, I’ll give everything if you would just bow to me!” Christ’s responses have stripped Satan and he stands before him, exposed. Exposed for exactly what he is; the villain.
It is this last ditch effort which results in his defeat, instead of going away and thinking about it, he risks exposure as the villain, therefore proving that he is not the beloved, therefore proving that he is under the judgement of God and therefore he is under the authority of Christ who as we will see exercises that authority.
One of the wisest things my Dad ever said to me “All evil always and constantly carries within it the seeds of its own destruction.” You see the bible tells us, this story tells us that in the end, Satan cannot win.
Yesterday, I realized something, something I had never realized before, and you may have seen me stick it on Facebook. It was this: the number one truth that Satan does not want people to know (even more than how he works, his strategies, how he actually hates us etc) is; THAT HE LOSES.
If we really knew this to our bones, how much fear would disappear straight away?
2. Away with you!!
Matthew 4:10 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'”
This is the nail in the coffin because as I briefly mentioned before, this response from Jesus shifts from referencing the past to referencing the future. His quote of course comes from Deuteronomy 6:10-13 Which is all about not forgetting God when you enter the promised land.
So Deuteronomy is certainly a summary, but is also (as it is here), prophecy. Again, Jesus is after all quoting the words of Moses the great prophet. As a prophet, Moses tends not to warn Israel of things that are not going to happen but of things that he knows is going to happen. So you see, it actually foreshadows Israel’s indifference first recorded in Judges 6:7-10
Moses words prophesied the failure of Israel, Jesus’ words again mark his victory where Israel failed but also as the new Moses, the founder of the new Israel, Christ’s words foreshadows the eternal victory that will be won.
It’s like Moses = negative prediction. Jesus = victorious prediction. Kind of summarizes the whole salvation by law v salvation by grace thing eh?
Jesus goes to the cross as the holy unblemished sacrifice whom pays the price and reverses the deed that all in him might be….Holy. Christ then maintains his holiness where we are unfaithful. Matthew claims Jesus’ purpose is to reverse Israel’s history and thus he fulfils Israel’s story. He demonstrates himself to be the true son and the true Israel and in that sense he redeems Israel, by creating a new one.
Matthew’s Jewish colleague Paul,the ex-Pharisee says; Romans 1:16-17 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous will live by faith.”
I think one of the most beautiful words in the English language is the word ‘everyone.’
3. And Angels Came.
Matthew 4:11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
There you have it, Satan is defeated, he’s run out of tricks and most of all, he has shown himself to be a lesser being. He has no choice, he flees. At that moment, the first two tests of the father’s provision and his presence with his beloved are answered as Jesus is attended by angels.
God’s beloved are attended by his angels who are not sons, who are not daughters, but created to be servants of God only, and he would have them wait on us his beloved.
Why do you think Satan fell?
But what- or who is he envious of? You and me.
As high as he was, he was created to be a servant only. He has never, and will never know what it is like to be the beloved. So he thinks “if I can’t have it, no one else will,” and ever tries to steal our identity as children of God. But he is not so crafty that he is beyond fear.
Because he knows something we often forget;
In the end he loses.
Greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world.