Read Matthew 4:1-11
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
3 During that time the devil came and said to him,”If you are the Son of God,tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
4 But Jesus told him,”No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city,Jerusalem,to the highest point of the Temple,6 and said,”If you are the Son of God,jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.'”
7 Jesus responded,”The Scriptures also say,’You must not test the LORD your God.'”
8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said,”if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here,Satan,” Jesus told him.
“For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the LORD your God
and serve only him.'”
11 Then the devil went away,and angels came and took care of Jesus. (NLT)
It is always tempting to use improper means to achieve worthwhile ends. This is what was happening to Jesus in the wilderness. Satan wasn’t trying to tempt him to stop being the Messiah. He was tempting him to go about being the Messiah in a very different way. A ‘meet material needs’ Messiah. A ‘draw a crowd by a miracle’ Messiah. A political and military Messiah. Each could do much good and achieve worthwhile ends. But Jesus rightly rejected the means.
We can be tempted to grow a church by pandering to consumerist tendencies of those attending. We can be tempted to employ the miracle-working power of God to impress others and build our reputation. We can be tempted to plot and plan for political influence so that we might get to the top and wield what we hope would be benevolent power.
We can thus become captive to our methods and our means and not achieve what was originally a proper goal. Following Jesus involves not only being committed to the ends he is working towards,but also to the means he uses. Humility,sacrifice,apparent powerlessness,wise discernment,much time with God. Worthy ends are not justified by unworthy means.