Heroes of the Bible

Do Not Seek the Kingdoms of the World and Their Authority

By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we can truly “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” that Jesus has commanded us. (Matthew 28:19-20).

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit early in his public ministry. (Luke 4:1). What happened? The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted for 40 days.

Some aspects of these temptations are specific to Jesus. Was he the Messiah? How would he prove he was the Messiah? What would he do as the Messiah?

Each of us experiences different wildernesses. Each of us experiences different temptations. Each of us experiences temptations for different periods of time.

Nevertheless, we-who-are-not-Messiahs experience many temptations that are similar to the temptations that Jesus experienced when the Holy Spirit led him into a “wilderness” for “40-days”.

Jesus was tempted by the devil with all the authority and splendor of all the kingdoms of the world. The devil promised to give Jesus all this authority and splendor if Jesus bowed down and worshipped him. (Luke 4:5-7).

Jesus refused. He said, “It is written ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Luke 4:8).

After his sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18).

Notice that by loving the LORD our God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, Jesus received more than all of the authority on earth. He received all of the authority in heaven as well.

Who amongst us has not been tempted to seek the “authority and splendor” of a “kingdom”? Perhaps the “kingdom” whose “authority and splendor” we seek is not from a literal nation such as the United States. The “kingdom” whose “authority and splendor” tempts us may be a business, a sport, our family, or even the Kingdom of God itself.

We can easily deceive ourselves about our motives.

For example, we may think that we want to be elected or appointed to a position in a local, state, or national government in order to help “justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” (Amos 5:24).

We may think that we want to succeed in our career, business, or sport so that we can bless other people.

We may think that we want to use our authority and splendor in our family so that we can help our loved ones and protect them.

We may think that we want to use our authority and splendor in the Kingdom of God in order to “go and make disciples of all nations . . . , teaching them to obey everything” that Jesus has commanded us. (Matthew 28:19-20).

Tragically, we can have mixed motives. We can sincerely want to do good, and yet do wrong. We can want to love the LORD our God and to love our neighbor, yet find ourselves bowing down and worshipping evil.

In the end, we will learn that it is impossible to help other people by ruling over them. (Genesis 3:16; Matthew 18:1-5; 20:24-28; Mark 9:33-37; 10:42-45; Luke 22:24-27; John 13:12-17,34-35; 15:9-17; 21:15-17).

We will learn that the way to be given authority is to use your authority to serve other people—to seek and to save other people so that they enjoy life to the full. (Luke 15:1-32; John 10:10-15).

We will learn that it is impossible to serve both God and money (Genesis 3:17; Matthew 6:24).

We will learn that it is impossible to serve both God and any type of evil. (Matthew 6:24).

The Apostle Paul experienced this battle between good and evil in his own life. He wrote to the church in Rome: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15).

Paul admitted: “I have the desire to do good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (Romans 7:18-19).

Nevertheless, Paul said, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:25).

How? How was Paul delivered so that he did not keep on doing evil?

Paul shared in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. (Romans 6:2-8; Galatians 5:24-25; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

This decision to follow the Way of Jesus is symbolized by baptism. By going fully under the water, we die with Jesus, crucifying our former ways of sinful living. By rising from the water, God resurrects our life so that we may have eternal life—a life that we enjoy to the full in this life and in the one to come. (John 10:10; Romans 6:2-8).

By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we can truly serve in a government that makes “justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” (Amos 5:24)—in this life and in the one to come.

By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we can truly succeed in ways that bless other people—in this life and in the one to come.

By sharing in the sufferings, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, we can truly “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything” that Jesus has commanded us. (Matthew 28:19-20).

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For my additional Lenten thoughts, please read my blogs “Fear Not the Pestilence That Stalks in the Darkness”,  “Do Not Live on ‘Bread’ Alone”, and “Do Not Jump Off the Temple”.

For my additional thoughts on the Temptations of Jesus, please read the Chapter “Jesus Is Tempted” in my book Hoping in the LORD, at pages 71-91.