The Impatient Accuser (Part II)

March 28, 2011

In the previous post (Part I), I looked at the passage where Jesus calls Peter, “Satan.” It seems to me that Jesus was getting on to Peter because he was doing exactly what Satan does in the wilderness: tempting Jesus to be impatient and to get things his way and in his timing (this insight I owe to Dr. Blount). Thus it seems that sin has with it an aspect of impatience. Following with this idea, it seems also that one of the chief methods of Satan in tempting is to appeal to our impatience, our desire to have things now instead of waiting for them. So in this post I want to briefly look closer at the passage in Matthew 4 where Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness.

Satan’s final temptation to Jesus (as Matthew orders them) is that he will give him all the kingdoms on earth if Jesus will just worship him (Matt 4:8-9). At this, Jesus rebukes Satan and tells him to leave, while answering (through Scripture) that God alone is to be worshiped. But notice that what Satan tempts Jesus with last in the wilderness is actually fulfilled in the end of Matthew at the Great Commission:

Temptation: (Matt 4:8-10).
  1. Satan takes Jesus to a high mountain.
  2. Satan offers him all the kingdoms of the world – authority.
  3. Satan says he will give the kingdoms to him.
  4. Satan tempts him to worship someone else.
Commission: (Matt 28:16-20).
  1. Jesus goes with his disciples to a mountain.
  2. Jesus says he has all authority in heaven and earth.
  3. Jesus says the authority was given to him.
  4. Jesus’ disciples worship him.
It seems, actually, that Matthew orders these temptations in such a way that the last temptation corresponds with the closing of his book (interestingly enough, Luke orders the temptations differently in his account, and in the same way the last temptation he listed corresponds with the ending of his gospel – I owe this insight to Dr. Lowery). So Matthew (and Luke, in a way) makes a point by the structure of his book that God comes through with his promises – that it is worth waiting and trusting God and his timing. The very flow of the book shows that impatience does not pay off. Sin (and Satan) lies when it tells you that having things now is better, or that God won’t give you good things if you wait for him. I love how structure (of all things!) can teach us truth about God and ourselves.
In the next post, I’ll look at one more place where I see the idea of sin and Satan tempting with impatience – although this passage may be one where people would disagree with the interpretation I will present… 

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