Summary: Satan wanted Jesus to bow down before him... how dare he? What possible reason would Satan even have to ask such an outrageous thing (part of a series on the book and movie trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien).
OPEN: Several years ago, Christian Herter was running hard for reelection as Governor of Massachusetts, and one day he arrived late at a barbecue.
He’d had no breakfast or lunch, and he was famished. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate and received one piece of chicken. The governor said to the serving lady, “Excuse me, do you mind if I get another piece of chicken. I’m very hungry.”
“Sorry, I’m supposed to give one piece to each person,” the woman replied.
“But I’m starved,” he repeated, and again she said: “Only one to a customer.”
Herter was normally a modest man, but he decided this was the time to use the weight of his office, and said, “Madam, do you know who I am? I am the governor of this state.”
“Do you know who I am?” she asked.
When he replied he did not she answered: “I’m the lady in charge of chicken. Move along please”
APPLY: The Governor of Massachusetts ended up looking foolish because he tried to claim authority, that wasn’t his to claim.
ILLUS: Back when President Reagan was shot and the nation spent an anxious day waiting for the outcome of surgery. Some in the media asked the question: who’s in charge while the president is hospitalized – and for a few hours there was some worry about what might happen if there was a national crisis while Reagan was incapacitated.
Hoping to put those worries to rest, Alexander Haig (one of Reagan’s staff) stepped up and made the bold declaration: “I’m in charge here!” And he was promptly ridiculed because there were people who DID KNOW who was supposed to be in charge… and they knew Haig wasn’t.
Several days of news reports followed that laid out the pattern of the succession of authority and Haig was WAY down the list.
I. Who has authority? Who’s in charge?
In the movie, “The Lord of the Rings” the Dark Lord (Sauron) has the authority. He has the power. And he takes all of his power and stores it in one magical ring – the ring of power. But Sauron loses his ring in battle, and everyone who gains possession of the ring from that point on lusts for the power the ring can give. What they all learn in time – however – is that the ring’s power doesn’t belong to them… it belongs to the Dark Lord who formed it.
The plot of that story is the quest embarked on by the forces of good to destroy the evil power of Sauron - by destroying the ring.
The main point, tho’, is that the ring and its power belonged to the Dark Lord.
Here in Matthew 4, we find Satan claiming that same power for himself. Turn with me to verses 8 and 9:
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."
Now, just where does the devil get off telling Jesus to bow down and worship him? Doesn’t Satan realize who he’s dealing with?
Well… yes he does.
In fact, this is the moment Satan has been waiting for ever since the dawn of creation. Satan’s objective (ever since the beginning of time) has been to has been to have God bow down to him
Ezekiel 28:12-17 speaks of Satan when it says: “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
What this passage tells us about Satan is, he was an angel of prominence. One of the most beautiful of all the angelic host. And seemingly an archangel – with a place of great influence in God’s creation.
But then Isaiah 14:12-15 tells us a little more about him “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how you are cut down to the ground, which weakened the nations!