Read: Luke 4:1-13
The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.
Of all the temptations placed before Jesus by the devil, I’ve always thought that this particular one would have been the hardest to resist. After all, with unlimited dominion, could Christ not have immediately banished evil from the world and ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven in one fell stroke? Isn’t that the vaunted end game of the Christian faith?
To put this temptation in a more contemporary cultural context, I’m reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, where the narrative engine revolves around The Ring of Power and the ultimate defeat of evil in the form of Sauron, who originally had the rings forged to enslave Middle Earth. While its denizens lust after the Ring in the belief that they can wield unlimited power to do good, the wisest among them understand the true nature of Sauron’s trap — and they instead choose to destroy the ring by entrusting it to the most humble of them all: a lowly hobbit named Frodo. Need I point out the Christian allegory at work here?
Before succeeding in his quest, Frodo is very nearly destroyed by the power of the ring before casting it back into the fire from which it was created. In the process, he discovers that it isn’t Sauron whom he must vanquish, but the power of temptation itself. In truth, that which spiritually corrupts us are not the objects of wealth and power, but the desire for them, regardless of how we chose to rationalize their attainment.
Lord, keep me mindful that your Son did not seek to redeem our fallen nature through power, but through sacrifice. Let me not place power over the world above devotion to you. Amen.