(243) – THE LAST TEMPTATION

Jesus was passing through a city in Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. He was near Jacob’s well. Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat by the well. It was almost the sixth hour. There came a woman from Samaria to draw water. Jesus asked her for some water to drink, and in this way there they started a conversation. After they had been talking for a while the woman said, “‘I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I WHO SPEAK TO YOU AM HE’” (John 4:25-26).Jesus declared that He was the awaited Messiah who had been prophesied about. After Judas’ betrayal, the priests who arrested him took him to Pilates, who asked, “You are the king of the Jews?” Jesus did not answer him, but told him, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have come into the world” (John 18:33-37). When Jesus, hearing the confession of Peter, gave to him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, commanded his disciples not to say to anyone that he was the Messiah (Christ, in Greek) (Matt. 16:15-20). It is thus very well established that Jesus was the Messiah whom Jehovah had promised—the king who was to deliver Israel from the captivities, taking them back to their land. The kingdom of Messiah would be the most powerful, and all the kingdoms of the world would submit and serve the Israelites forever.

In order to make it very clear that he, Jesus, was the Messiah, and in order to fulfill the prophecy of Zachariah, Jesus sent two disciples to bring him a young donkey on which no one had yet sat. They threw their garments on the colt, and put Jesus on it. And as he passed, people spread their garments before him on the road; others cut branches from the trees, and spread them on the road. “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, gentle, and mounted upon a donkey” (Matt. 21:1-8). And this was how Jesus entered in Jerusalem, and went into the temple of Jehovah, and cast out all of those who were selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those who were selling doves (Matt. 21:10-21). The impression he gave was that he was going to sit on the throne and submit Rome and the other kingdoms, but he did not. It looked like he was going to use an iron rod, but he did not. Instead of restoring Israel, he cursed the fig tree, saying, “No longer shall there be any fruit from you” (Matt. 21:18-19).  The fig tree is a picture of Israel. We read this in Jer. 24:1-10. Now, if Jesus comes into Jerusalem on a donkey’s back, acclaimed as Messiah and king, and he then rejects the fig tree, and the fig tree dies to the roots, even a blind person can conclude that the kingdom of Israel has come to an end. There is not a kingdom anymore. Let us analyze this. In chapter 21 of Matthew, following the above narrative, we have the parable of the bad vine-growers, in which Jesus tells us that the landowner (God the Father) sends his servants (the prophets) to receive his produce, but they were hurt and stoned. Last of all he sent his son, saying, they will respect my son. But the vine-growers, seeing the son, said among themselves:“‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize the inheritance.’ And they took him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him.” The landowner commanded the destruction of the evilworkers and rent out the vineyard to other better workers (the Church). Jerusalem was destroyed in the 70 AD, the temple was burned down, and the fig tree dried up forever.

Later on, after this prophetic sermon, Jesus went to the Gethsemane to pray. He went a little distance from the disciples, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if Thou art willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42-44). When Jesus said, “yet not My will but Thine be done,” the will of Jesus was different from that of the Father. And if it was different, he was being tempted. And Luke says in his gospel that Jesus was in agony, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44).

If Jesus, when he prayed, were addressing Jehovah, and the will of Jehovah was that he sat on the throne of David and brought restoration to Israel, it is obvious that the will of Jesus, being different, was not to sit on the throne of David. As Jesus said, “Not My will by Thine be done,” he would have taken over the kingdom of Israel and taken the rod of iron against his own will. But as Jesus did not take over the kingdom, neither did he sit on the throne, for he declared to Pilates that his kingdom was not of this earth, Jesus did not pray to Jehovah, but to the Father, whose will was for Jesus to be rejected as Messiah and king, and to be crucified, and so it was. Christ’s temptation, the last terrible temptation that brought on him terrible anguish, causing him to sweat drops of blood, was exactly the temptation to accept the offer from Jehovah: “Ask Me, and I will surely give you the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware” (Ps. 2:8-9).

Jesus was rejected and killed by the Jews as a blasphemous impostor, and they wait for the Mashiach ben Yossef until this day (Messiah son of Joseph). This is what my Hebrew teacher told me, who came from Israel to teach the language to the Jews who were returning to their land. The truth is that on the cross Jesus reconciled the world with the Father, according to Paul. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19). Since God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself on the cross, it is obvious that this was his will, which was contrary to the will of Jehovah.

The great and last temptation, doubtlessly, was to go the easier way, that is, to receive from Satan’s hands all the kingdoms of this world and their glory (Luke 4:5-8). It was easier to transform stones into bread, that is, to bring restoration to Israel, a people hardened by evil and corruption. Jesus had the power to do that. Also, Jesus was taken to the pinnacle of the temple, which is its higher spot, and there he would be seen as almighty when, jumping, the angels would catch him; that is, the myriad of angels that ruled with Jehovah would now be with Jesus, the Messiah (1 Kings 22:19-20; Ps. 103:19-21). If Jesus would yield to temptation and take over the throne of Israel, the Church would not exist and nobody would be saved, that is, hell would be man’s destination. But Christ humbled himself until death, and death on the cross. Therefore Christ “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:5-10). And death and hell lost the battle (1 Cor. 15:55). And they will be cast into the lake of fire one day (Rev. 20:14). Do you know where did so much victory come from? From the resistance of Jesus against temptation. And Jesus is the way for us! (John 14:6).

 

by PASTOR OLAVO SILVEIRA PEREIRA

One thought on “(243) – THE LAST TEMPTATION

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