The Third Temptation – Matthew 4:8-11

Last time, we studied the lure of Satan’s temptation.  Today, we examine the trap of the temptation.

The condition Satan made is this: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” 

Satan knew that he had to turn Jesus from His path to the cross.  The cross meant the crushing of the serpent’s head.  The cross meant the establishing of Christ’s spiritual kingdom, and His ascension to rule all things at the Father’s right hand.

The trap which Satan designed to divert Jesus from the Father’s way was asking Jesus to bow down and worship him. It was a well-hidden trap.  Satan boasted loudly of the kingdoms, in all their power and glory.  If Jesus would only bow down, He could be the king of all these kingdoms.

A well-hidden trap.  But a trap with very sharp teeth.

Had Jesus become ensnared in the trap, surely He would have never died on the cross.  He would not have been exalted to His Father’s right hand.  He would not have been the king of His spiritual kingdom.  Satan’s cause would reign victorious, and the seed of the woman would be defeated.  This was Satan’s trap.  This was his motive in the temptation of Jesus.

So dangerous was this trap because of what Satan asked Jesus to do: worship him.  The Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 34, Question 44, describes worship as rightly knowing, trusting in, submitting to, loving, fearing, and glorifying God.  But serving Satan would be knowing, trusting in, submitting to, loving, fearing, and glorifying the prince of darkness.  Horrors!

Satan uses this bait and trap method with us, as well.  The concept is simple, as any hunter will know: set the trap, put an attractive food in it, and when the rabbit jumps into the trap to nibble on the food, the jaws snap shut.  Just so, Satan sets his trap.  In that trap is the prospect for more power and glory.  This appeals to our flesh.  We jump for the bait, and the contraption snaps down upon us.  Beware of the devil’s workings, young people!  You and I are called to know how the devil works, so that we can see and smell the bait for what it is – sin.

Next week Monday we will conclude this series on the temptations of Jesus by looking at Jesus’ answer to the devil’s temptation.

RB

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