One Temple, Two Mountains & Seven Beatitudes

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
4 But He answered and said, “It is written,
‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

‘ He shall give His angels charge over you,’

‘ In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”

7 Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’”
8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
10 Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written,
‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’”
11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Have you ever noticed  that after coming up from the waters of baptism,  Jesus is immediately led into the wilderness? That after hearing God the Father proclaim “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17), we hear the devil tauntingly tell Him “If you are the Son of God…“?

And that after the Holy Spirit descends upon Him, He is “led up” by the Holy Spirit into a place of testing?

The text is riddled with opposites. Why?

We also read that:

  • The Lord is taken up to the Temple’s pinnacle, then the devil tells Him to throw Himself down so that the angels would bear Him up.
  • The Lord is taken to the top of an exceedingly high mountain and told to fall down and worship the devil, in order to be raised to political prominence by the devil.

Is this simply a literary device? Or is there something we can glean from these opposites?

What do we make of them?

When stripped of the crowds of people gathering at His baptism, dwelling in solitude in the wilderness – no crowds, no prophet, and the absence of God the Father’s mighty voice thundering from heaven – what did the Lord face?

Satan presented Christ with opportunities to lift Himself up to (1.)spiritual and (2.)political Messianic power. Satan brought Christ quick fix alternatives to His present situation. Jesus could wait for the Father or take matters into His own hands…

But what did He do?

He waited, in the Spirit and in the Word and in faith, for the Father.

I thought a bit about this passage today.

…about how the enemy’s desire is for us to fall one way or another (either by presumptuously sinning in order to gain the attention of God or by elevating worldly riches and glory above God and, thereby, worshiping His enemy)

…about how sometimes it seems to me that God is absent from the wilderness, when in fact He has “led me upby His Holy Spirit into the wilderness

…about how God wants me to wait for Him and not accept sinful alternatives

…about how the enemy can tempt us to perform religious deeds while in the wilderness in order for us to gain the attention of God, or prove our sonship to ourselves (or others)

…about how the enemy sought to replace God’s approval with the approval of men

And I thought about what our Lord’s outcome was…

Matthew 5:1

1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.

After these literal “ups and downs,” the Lord is ministered to, and raises Himself and lowers Himself for others, teaching:

3 “ Blessed are the poor in spirit,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
For they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
For they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
For they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
For they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
For they shall be called sons of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matt. 5:3-9

Those who are blessed aren’t those who take up into their own hands what is only God’s to handle and give, but those who know they have nothing in themselves – those who must wait upon God, who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and not temporal satisfaction.

To summarize all this, I learned something profoundly simple:

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Ps. 27:14)

God will bring me/you/us out of the wilderness in His own time.


4 thoughts on “One Temple, Two Mountains & Seven Beatitudes

  1. Heather says:

    Wonderful observations! I love the “picturesque” approach to Bible study :)

    I recently realized that Jesus’ wilderness triumphs parallel Adam’s failures to resist what 1 John 2:16 identifies as the “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life” are the same things with which Jesus was tempted. t the very beginning of that same chapter in 1 John, we are reminded that John is writing so that we who are in Christ may not sin—but also we are comforted with the knowledge that IF we fail to obey, those who are in Christ have an Advocate in the Son (the one Who successfully overcame where we constantly mess up). What an encouragement to continue moving forward even when it is hard!

    Depression is an issue I have dealt with for years. Over the past couple years, the bouts have become much more intense and frequent. But the Lord has been faithful to repeatedly bring me back to the reality that He allows His children to be pressured by our own worldly cares when we refuse to humble ourselves and thankfully depend on Him for literally everything. It’s my own fault when I become anxious or depressed (because I’m not waiting on the Lord, as you quoted in your post) , but the downward spiral is lovingly designed to cause me to run back to Dad and beg Him to take care of me.

    And, when I have experienced that comfort, I can then turn to another person who struggles in the same way and offer support and point them to the One True Answer to all of our heartaches. It is one way I am able to show God’s love to my brother in Christ–or even strangers who desperately need that love.

    My experience is that after meeting with the Lord on a mountaintop, I can expect to have to enter a foggy, dangerous valley so that my new found depth of relationship may be tested and refined. When I get careless and forget about the UP/DOWN pattern, it catches me off guard and I get pretty beat up before I remember to look up.

    Childlike trust is so, so hard when I wrongfully think that some things are too insignificant to ask Him about. Or I think that some things are too big for Him to manage. Or, when I fear that I’ll have to walk through the fire alone. But it is precisely that childlike faith which marks a life of true repentance, because the essence of our sin is that we don’t believe God when He says we need Him, nor do we thank Him for being Who He is.

    UM. I may have spiraled completely outside the scope of your post, as I linked over from Glen’s “Pity” commentary. Still had that theme going in the background. I apologize if I have blown off-course. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to break.

    However, if I somehow actually caught your meaning, you’re welcome to poke through my posts on depression, if you like.


  2. link says:

    dang man, deep. i like how you recognized the opposites in the passages. i think i read it in one of C.S. Lewis’ books, something along the lines of “if God does not want us to feel His presence who are we to command it?” if He has led us into the “wilderness” then who are we to tell Him to take us out immediately. it’s all for a reason and i read this scripture this morning Romans 2:7 “To those who by PERSISTENCE in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.” just keep on hungering, thirsting and waiting on Him. scripture is beautiful


  3. Glen says:

    Great stuff Hiram. I’d never spotted all those up/downs.

    I love how Jesus ends up getting everything the devil tempts Him with – but through loving, patient obedience. He makes bread in the wilderness for *others* (but not for Himself). Angels do end up serving Him (v11). And the kingdoms are all His, not through bowing to Satan but to the Father. And as He does so, Satan is driven out.


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