Read Luke 4:5-8
5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendour; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”
8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” (NIV)
Just who is in charge of our world? Some look at it and despair that anyone is in charge. Others might immediately state that Jesus is the ruler of the world. In which case, his rule seems to be very incomplete and spasmodic. As is often the case, the Bible gives us a rather ambiguous answer.
Satan, the evil one, is described as being the god of this age. And in our text today, Jesus doesn’t seem to query Satan’s claim that he has power in the world. Jesus may well be accepting that the evil one exercises authority and can actually manipulate circumstances to serve his ends. Jesus resists Satan not so much because Satan has no authority, but that it is not rightful or good authority.
This is a reflection on a very basic reality of our life of faith. The kingdom or rule of God has come to earth in the person of Jesus and is carried on by the Holy Spirit in his people. However, it has not come in its fullness. The decisive victory over Satan was won in the Easter events outside Jerusalem, but many battles remain to be fought because the enemy refuses to accept defeat.
So much goes wrong in the world because Satan is still, in a sense, its ruler. He wields power. God’s power comes against it and will one day vanquish it utterly. Till then, we live in a contested world. We can both expect things to go terribly wrong and expect things to go wonderfully well.