Posted by Forrest Parkinson

Jesus Imperative #2:
Only worship God
Q 8 (Part 1)
Worship
Then taking him to a high mountain,
the devil showed Jesus in an instant
all the empires of the world.
“I will give you the power and glory of these Kingdoms,
for it is mine, and I can give it to anyone I want.
All you have to do is worship me.”
Jesus retorted, “It is written
‘You must worship God and serve him alone.’”
Having exhausted all these ways of tempting Jesus,
he left him, to return at a later time.
Borg-Powelson-Riegert Reconstruction (1996) ref:
Matthew 4:8-11 & Luke 4: 5-8, 13

Dear Jesus Way Friends

I think it is fair to say a well-fed revolutionary may give his life for democracy but that democracy has little value to a starving man.
—Albert Schweitzer

At the very core of the English word “worship” is the idea that we recognize “worth.” Sometime after the rigors of Basic Training, or perhaps in college sophomore year, we might indulge in a long philosophical conversation with friends about “what makes anything worth anything?” In my opinion, we don’t have those kinds of conversations often enough. I think we walk around confused about what has value in our lives and make all kinds of big and small decisions based on fuzzy thinking about “worth.”

Gandhi once said of the vast Indian rural populous… “ in the real India, politics are confined to bread and salt….” Bread has immediate value to a hungry person. Young people naturally attribute great worth to beauty and handsomeness. Given my expanded waistline, how much immediate value is bread to me? At my stage in life, a lovely young woman may turn my head, but is it worth being caught? What is worth your attention? your money? your time? your life?

Jesus said, worship God. He was referencing Deuteronomy 6:13
“The Lord your God you shall fear; him you shall serve, and by his name alone you shall swear”

In Jesus’ time, it was entirely possible to worship things other than the One, or ultimate, God. It was even possible to worship people, such as kings and especially emperors. The Hebrew people were very strict about not doing that. God alone is to be worshiped. So when Jesus resists all the temptations he sums up with the imperative; “Only worship God.”

To submit to temptation, by implication, is to worship something other than God. Consider the temptations illustrated by Jesus in the desert.

First, the temptation is to distrust God’s providence, as in commanding stones to turn into bread. Jesus demonstrated worship by attributing means of life not to food alone but to God.

Then the temptation is to presumption or what we might today call “egotism,” as in letting the angels save him from self-destruction when he jumps from the ledge to prove he is “special.” Jesus says “Don’t test God” and means that neither our specialness, nor our beloved nature, implies we can work magic.

Next, the temptation is to worldly ambition, as in all the Kingdoms of the world just because you worship something other than the One God. Jesus sums up all of his resistance to temptation by entirely submitting to the One God. Just so, Jesus demonstrated withholding idolatry. Jesus did all this by worship.

So it is a very big deal to have our hearts in the right place. To worship God is why we need to know what we are doing when we value something.

So here are three questions to consider for our discussion, just to get started.

Can we recognize good bread as good without reference to God?

Can we enjoy and accept other people’s positive attention?

If we don’t see God’s hand in our work, can we simply claim it as our own?

Faithfully,

Forrest
Next Week
Q 8 (Part 2)
Temptation of Empire
Then taking him to a high mountain,
the devil showed Jesus in an instant
all the empires of the world.
“I will give you the power and glory of these Kingdoms,
for it is mine, and I can give it to anyone I want.
All you have to do is worship me.”
Jesus retorted, “It is written
‘You must worship God and serve him alone.’”
Having exhausted all these ways of tempting Jesus,
he left him, to return at a later time.