Desert Showdown

Remember old western movies and television shows? Two cowboys meet and claim, “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us.” So it was in the desert wilderness with Jesus and Satan. Two rulers battled, their ways of rule incompatible. Two kingdoms clashed, their goals irreconcilable. The two could not (and still cannot) coexist on some mutual ground of compromise or agreement to disagree. One had to give way to the other.

The Bible’s authors make it clear; Satan is God’s real enemy, and this author of evil crouches behind every act of evil. (Does this absolve humans of responsibility for the evil they do, for their sin? Absolutely not! We become like what we worship, doing the works of the one we worship.) To provide creation’s rescue and restore the hope of the beginning of the Bible's story, (Genesis 1-2), Satan needed to be dethroned as the “ruler of this world” and his kingdom destroyed, and Jesus had to be enthroned and his kingdom inaugurated.

Here. In Jesus’ wilderness temptation an initial showdown between God (in the Son of God, Jesus) and Satan takes place resulting in Jesus’ initial victory over Satan, making it possible for the Kingdom of God to break through, and to begin making inroads into, the kingdoms of this world. (Read Matthew 12:22-37.)

The temptations offered to Jesus parallel those that the man and woman encountered in the garden and Israel experienced in the wilderness. But Jesus succeeded where man and woman and Israel succumbed. Turn these stones to bread. Jesus refused to be self-sufficient or to use his power and authority forpersonal good. Test God’s protection. Jesus submitted to God-rule, waiting for God’s timing. Worship me, and I will give you the kingdoms of the world. Jesus accepted God’s plans to accomplish the mission for which he had been sent.

In resisting Satan’s temptations, Jesus aligned himself with God rather than with Satan. By doing this, Jesus both robbed Satan of power and showed himself ready for the "salvation" task at hand.