March 5, 2017

Lent 2017: Only God has Real Power

Originally posted at

To the People of the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, and to the ends of the earth, Fulfilling our charge to “To guard, transmit, teach, and proclaim … the apostolic faith as it is expressed in Scripture and tradition, and … to interpret that faith evangelically and prophetically” (BOD, 2016, ¶ 414.3), the bishops in the Western Jurisdiction will offer messages of faith each week of Lent, with the prayer that God will strengthen the Church for its mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor 9 and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.”  10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’” – Matthew 4:8

Some of you may have had experiences being around local or national politicians.  I’ve had my share of these experiences, and not all of them are bad, but mostly, it is an interesting experience in power dynamics.  Politicians are usually surrounded by a lot of people who want something from them, and they act and behave accordingly.  To put it crassly, there is a lot of “sucking up” type behavior.  Personally, I can’t stand that behavior, but it is something you must endure when you attend political events.

In the Matthew passage, Satan is using this same type of power game that seduces so many around politicians and people in power.  Satan believes he can tempt Jesus by offering worldly power and influence.  But Jesus is too grounded in God…too deep into an understanding of power…too sharp for Satan to ever tempt.  Jesus knows that only God has the power that Satan bandies about, and it is false idols and power that Satan possesses.