Temptation from the Temple
As I looked up at the church with the steeple shining white against a crystal blue sky, I imagined Jesus standing on the pinnacle of the temple with Satan sneering his temptation at HIM.
The Lord of Lords, the babe born in a manger, the Son of God who would give HIS life by the worst death known to mankind tolerated the evil, rotten breath of Lucifer in HIS precious face. And then HE followed him to the most sacred place on earth at the time. I recall Moses had to remove his sandals when standing in the presence of God the Father. But here, Sin – personified – is not only standing, but leading THE WAY to places HE had created to “offer” them to HIM in a test. I am grateful to the Father as I think about that moment in our spiritual history. HE was full of the Spirit.
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness…(Luke 4:1) … And he led HIM to Jerusalem and had HIM stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to HIM, “If YOU are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here; for it is written, ‘HE WILL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE CONCERNING YOU TO GUARD YOU AND ON THEIR HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP,’ lest YOU strike YOUR foot against a stone. And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Luke 4: 9-13)
Modern day temples.
The questions began to flood my mind. Why would the devil lead HIM there? Why would he want HIM to jump? What is the significance of this temptation to us today? Is the timing of this temptation important? Why did Jesus go with him?
Steeples and their pinnacles.
I love learning and my research into this was breathtaking. The Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested. The word tested in the Greek means to intensely tempt, try or prove. It occurred to me that Jesus didn’t need to be “proven” to our Father, so this testing must have been for us. Our salvation would be in jeopardy if HE had failed and Satan had won. All of time revolves around the decisions HE made in this moment. We are tempted daily to choose the way of the world or to remember that spiritual battles are waged in realms that we cannot see and we have the same power Jesus had ….. if we are full of the Spirit.
Jesus was tempted in a sacred place. The temple was rebuilt by Herod the Great and the pinnacle was likely a summit of Solomon’s porch. It was 600 feet from the foundation and overlooked the Valley of Kidron. Solomon’s porch was likely the hall of judgment where he made many of his wise decisions. Jesus, the King of Kings answered every temptation, just as King Solomon had met and answered so many of his subjects with wisdom.
“The Bible describes David fleeing across Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives to escape his son Absalom (2 Samuel 15:13-30). King Asa worshipped here at pagan altars with idols and Asherah poles (1 Kings 15:13). Athaliah was executed here after her evil reign in Judah was brought to a violent end (2 Kings 11:16). Today there are many tombs and graves in the Kidron, since burying people here became a practice in the days of Josiah (2 Kings 23:6)”. (Source: Generation Word)
Isn’t it ironic that Satan obviously wanted to “bury” Jesus here, too? Instead, HE chose to be crucified on Golgatha in this same area where there were many dead bodies that had not risen to live again. And isn’t it true to character that Jesus would be crucified in the same area where pagan altars and idols had been erected in days past? Just as HE had associated with “sinners and tax collectors” in life, HE would die among their ruins as well.
David is considered Israel’s greatest king and now Jesus stood in the same place as David. Years earlier David had tried to escape death by his own child – fleeing to this place. Here now, Jesus is THE Son, but not trying to escape the death sentence of His Father.
The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when this city will be rebuilt… The whole valley where
dead bodies and ashes are thrown, and all the terraces out to the Kidron Valley on the east as
far as the corner of the Horse Gate, will be holy to the Lord. The city will never again be uprooted or demolished.” – Jeremiah 31:38-40
Is it any wonder that Satan wants to destroy this? While we shutter at the boldness of testing Jesus in the temple, of church fires and the senseless death of worshippers inside holy temples, Satan knows the consequences of the stumbling blocks he so carefully chooses. Until the end of time as we know it, he will continue to try and demolish HIS kingdom.
But, just as the worshippers knew centuries ago, there will be a triumphant entry into this city again.
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (Revelation 7:9)
Jesus didn’t “jump” as Satan asked HIM to that day. I imagine HE looked out over that valley of the dead from the pinnacle of the temple and saw me. HE saw you. And HE knew that our lives would be filled with a continuous surge of evil and there would be days we would feel beaten and defeated. We would be tempted ourselves to ask HIM in anger …. if you are indeed God, then do this or why that?
Angels weren’t called that day to save HIS foot from the stone, instead HIS foot was nailed to the cross. There’s no more need to put the LORD to the test. He passed. Hosanna in the highest!