When the Journey Becomes the Destination
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
The accomplishment of reaching all nations in one fell swoop! That’s what Satan offered Jesus in this temptation. There is a reason Satan is called the god of this age. He has real (though usurped) authority on earth.
It was a serious offer. Yet, Jesus turned it down, even though the end result seemed to fit His ultimate purposes. In three years Jesus would give His disciples the Great Commission, commanding them to go into all the world. It’s taken at least 2,000 years to even come close to completion. And it could have been accomplished in a snap if Jesus had agreed to Satan’s proposal (assuming that the great liar would fulfill his end of the bargain once he had gotten his way).
Have you noticed how easy it is to talk yourself into doing the wrong thing for the right reason? When we make the end result our goal, it’s possible to make a lot of really bad decisions in order to achieve the goal. In the kingdom of God, however, the end does not justify the means. How one gets there, the journey itself, is more important than any accomplishment. God doesn’t call us to success as the world sees it, but to faithfulness.
Jesus rejected the immediate offer to become the ruler of all nations because the means (worshipping Satan) was an offense to His Father. In a very real sense, Jesus at this point turned from worldly power to the Cross. He turned from the most amazing offer made to any man on earth, and instead embraced God’s plan to save the world through dying on that Cross.
Jesus Christ will indeed one day be worshipped by all nations. But He had to reject the immediate horizontal power for the long slow walk to Calvary that kept Him vertically focused on His Father.
Listen: Spend a few quiet moments seeking God. Be attentive to whatever He may speak to your heart.
Reflect: How is the Spirit leading you to respond to what you have heard from God?
Confess and Repent: If there is something the Spirit convicts you of, take time to prayerfully confess it. Resolve to turn from it if it is sin, or step toward whatever He is leading you into that you have either neglected or not seen before.
Ask: Father, I thank You for the wisdom and obedience of Jesus that resulted in my salvation. Thank You Lord, for patiently waiting for thousands of years to be fully embraced as King of Kings and Lord of Lords by every creature. Give me the commitment to obedience and the wisdom to walk the road You have chosen for me in order to fulfill Your intentions. Help me to reject shortcuts and press into Your more perfect purposes.
- When are you most likely to be tempted to move ahead at your own pace and to find a faster way that might by-pass the work of God in and through you? Take an entire day and intentionally forgo shortcuts of any kind. Don’t use the microwave, take the parking place that is furthest away from your destination, handwrite a letter rather than sending an email, etc. Take time to be very present to God rather than short-cutting your time with Him.
- Go out of your way to be intentionally patient and attentive to others today. When a co-worker, a grandchild or a friend engages you in conversation or asks a question, put down your phone or stop what you are doing to look at them to fully hear what they are saying. If you are too busy for others, you are too busy. If we are to be Jesus to others, they must see Him when they are with us.
- What idols are in your life that take away your time with God so that He is no longer first in your life? Are there TV shows or internet games that are irresistible to you? If you worship a thing or another person more than God, make a choice to take steps to change this situation.
Taken from Vertical with Jesus by David and Kim Butts. © 2022 PrayerShop Publishing.