I know, I know, I can be a little dramatic sometimes. My mother accuses me of this frequently. But for the most part, I think most people aren’t dramatic enough. And I think I’m on pretty solid ground to defend myself, at least in this instance, because Jesus actually says this. Are you going to accuse Jesus of being overdramatic? I don’t think so. I’m right, Mom’s wrong. Sorry, Mom.
I really, really thought I was going to be moving past the temptation of Jesus this morning. But then I read the 3rd one, and I just couldn’t. I actually tried to dismiss it and read ahead, looking for something else. Couldn’t do it. Kept getting pulled back. So here we are.
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “all these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”
Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.Matthew 4:8-11
It may be true that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Oncologists see cancer everywhere. And I see verses that apply to overeating. But that’s the wonderful thing about the Bible – you see new things in it every time you read it, depending on what you’re looking for. I’m not saying that every interpretation is correct – sometimes seeing what you want to see just means that you’re superimposing your own opinion on words that don’t really support it. But if you’re reading the Bible and honestly asking God to show you where you can apply this to your own life, I don’t think you can go wrong.
Satan: the Seducer
Now, this might be controversial. I don’t yet know how much credit to give it. But Satan, in this passage, sounds an awful lot like one of my Food Indulgers. Specifically, the seductive rationalizer. Maybe I should have seen the connection earlier in this chapter. I’ve had a conversation with this part of me before, here, and even then, I theorized that maybe this personality wasn’t actually a part of me. That maybe it was something separate. Something snake-like. But for whatever reason, it was these verses, specifically, that reminded me of the voice in my head.
Not that the voice in my head is offering me kingdoms. My desires are much simpler than that. But this is the passage where Satan most clearly states that he is offering Jesus something he wants – for a price. Exactly what my seductive rationalizer does with me. It offers me freedom – from pain, from responsibility, from whatever it is that’s bothering me. All I have to do is eat.
When I think about how often – how habitually – I’ve given in, and given this seductive rationalizer what it wants, I can have a little more sympathy for Jesus, here. I’ll admit, as a child, I didn’t really see the temptation of Jesus as a huge deal. I mean, how hard could it be to say no to Satan? Even I could do that. No matter how reasonable he makes it seem, you just don’t do anything he suggests. Cause he’s SATAN, for crying out loud. He is not giving you good ideas. And yet, I keep eating. Over, and over, and over again. I have no excuse. I know it’s wrong. I know it isn’t going to end well. And I still do it. And I’m not even being offered anything meaningful.
Satan offered Jesus something amazing: all the kingdoms of the world. Something he wanted more than almost anything else. That’s what Jesus came here for – to bring his people back to him. They’d been led astray by the Devil, and the Devil was offering to give them back. The easy way. No walking around Israel preaching. No rejection. No painful death on a cross. Just a little thing. A symbolic gesture.
Just bow down.
But Jesus was too smart for that. I’m sure he realized that if he had worshiped Satan, what he got in return would be meaningless. He would have the world, but he would be subservient to Satan. Which would mean that Satan really owned the world – and Jesus, too.
And yet, this isn’t how he replies to Satan. He doesn’t say – “Nice try; but I see right through your evil plan, you sneaky devil.”
All he does is quote another passage of scripture. A command.
You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.Matthew 4:10
See, he didn’t need to make the rational argument. He didn’t need to be smart – though I’m sure he was. All he needed to do was trust God’s words, and follow them. God says don’t worship anyone else, so don’t worship anyone else. No matter how good the deal seems. And that’s something we can do. We can’t always see through the evil schemes of Satan, or even our own minds. In the moment of temptation, all our logic and intelligence may fail us. Heck, some of us aren’t that intelligent to begin with. But we can stick to what we know.
BLE is like that. It gives us lots of reasons and arguments and science. But in the end, it gives us 4 rules. And ultimately, the success of the program depends on just following those rules. You don’t have to be constantly figuring out how a certain food will impact your brain, or identifying the emotions behind each craving. You just have to follow the rules.
I need to get better at that. Just following the rules. Cause the truth is, my seductive rationalizer can outsmart me, at least when I’m weak. I can’t rely on my own intelligence. I can’t let myself have a choice. I just have to follow the rules.
And, in particular, I have to worship God only. Not food. Cause really, when I choose to eat things I know I shouldn’t, what am I serving? Not God. I’m becoming a slave to food. That’s the ‘freedom’ my seductive rationalizer – possibly Satan – offers. It’s not freedom at all.