Summary: The worst temptation was reserved for the last.
From the Temple to the Mountain
Matthew 4: 8-11
The worst temptation was reserved for the last. Sometimes the saint’s last temptation is the hardest to overcome. Although we have been and are attacked by the tempter we must prepare for worse. We must be armed for all attacks, with the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left.
In order to show Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory Satan took Him to a very high mountain. The pinnacle of the temple is not high enough; the prince of the power of the air must have him further up into his territories. Some think this high mountain was on the other side of Jordan, because there we find Jesus after the temptation (John 1:28-29). It may have been mount Pisgah where Moses had all the kingdoms of Canaan shown him. There was doubtless a delusion of Satan’s in it; it is probable that that which he showed him, was but a landscape, an airy representation in a cloud, such as that great deceiver could easily frame and put together; setting forth, in proper and lively colors, the glories and the splendid appearances of princes; their robes and crowns, the pomp of thrones, and courts, and stately palaces, the sumptuous buildings in cities, the gardens and fields about the country seats, with the various instances of their wealth, pleasure, and gaiety; so as might be most likely to strike the fancy, and excite the admiration and affection. Such was this show, and his taking him up into a high mountain, was to add to the delusion. Jesus permitted Satan to take Him to this mountain so that His victory over him might be the more illustrious.
Satan’s temptations come into our lives through the eye which is blinded to the things it should see, and dazzled with the vanities it should be turned off. The first sin began in the eye, Genesis 3:6. This is why we need to make a covenant with our eyes, and to pray that God would turn them away from beholding vanity. Secondly, temptations commonly come from the world, and the things in it, the lust of the flesh, and of the eye, and the pride of life. Thirdly, there is the great delusion that Satan puts into soul in his temptations. He deceives, and so destroys by showing men and women the glories of the world while hiding the sin, sorrow, and death which stain the pride of all this glory, the cares and calamities which attend great possessions, and the thorns which crowns are lined. The glory of the world is the most delusion to the unthinking and unwary that can come upon men and women. Of all his snares the pride of life is the most dangerous.
On the mountain Satan promised to give Jesus all He has seen. He knew he had not achieved his goal in the first two temptations because Jesus did not give him the evidence needed to prove he had achieved his goal. In this temptation Satan tempts Jesus as if He was a mere man. Men become easy prey when they permit Satan to convince them they are forsaken by God. Satan offers them something that has nothing real or good in it. Multitudes lose the sight of what is real and good by setting their eyes on that which is not. The promises of Satan are all a sham; they are shows and shadows with which he deceives them, or rather they deceive themselves. Satan offered Jesus something that has been given to Him before the foundation of the universe was laid, the nations of the earth.
Satan told Jesus he would give Him authority over all the nations of the earth if He would bow before him and worship him. The two former temptations had something in them that would be used in every temptation of men and women. This temptation goes beyond the former temptations. This temptation has the highest form of wickedness in it. It is so wicked it is immediately rejected. It is a just indignation, which rises at the proposal of any thing that reflects on the honor of God, and attacks His authority.
In order to strengthen our determination to resist Satan it is good to know the reason why we must resist him. Jesus does not dispute whether Satan was an angel of light or had the authority to make this offer, he must not be worshipped because that is an honor due to God only. Jesus answer to Satan as brief as it can be. No room is left for objections. Worship is due to God only, and must not be given to any creature. It is a part of His glory that He will not give to or share with another, even His own Son if He were not God equal with Him and one with Him.