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14th January: God's Limits (3) -- The Limits of Promotion

You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve. Matthew 4:10

The third temptation offered to Jesus is the boldest. Satan comes right into the open with a naked and direct bid for power. He brings to Jesus' mind's eye all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them: `All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me' (Mt 4:9).

Jesus does not need the devil's patronage to exercise his rightful authority. `Begone, Satan,' he says, `for it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve".' It is not the devil or anybody else, but God alone, who is to be worshipped. In the loneliest depths of his sufferings (Jn 12:27-28) Jesus is to be constrained to say to his Father: `Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say, "Father, save me from this hour"? No, for this purpose I have some to this hour. Father, glorify they name.' And the third commendation comes from the Father: `I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again'.

For the third time, how do we interpret the Father's love and care? Do we present him as one whose duty it is to promote our interests, forgetting that Jesus himself, in his human form, had to go without an answer to the problem of rejection, so that he was to come to say: `My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' (Mt 27:46).

And what of God's glory? And of ours? Perhaps we have risen high in our profession, we have made lots of money and are distinguished academically. We go to all the important congresses and professional conferences. We have walked in company with the devil up to our own high mountain. We have listened to his proposals without even recognising who our companion is. Have we been given the grace, have we sought the grace to say `Father, glorify thy name', even when we know that such glorification may be costly to ourselves?

Lord Jesus, help us always to hear your voice saying, as you
said to your first disciples, and as you say to us in the
closed security of the upper rooms of our lives, `As the
Father has sent me, even so I send you'.

Further reading: Mt 4:1-11. Lk 4:1-15.


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