Most people believe Jesus is standing at the peak of the roof of the Royal Porch at the top of the southeast corner of the temple. 460 feet above the cliffs overlooking the Kidron Valley. Josephus wrote that when he was looking down from up there one day it made him dizzy. The south side of the temple contains the Huldah gates, the main entrance, and huge courtyards and those massive steps. A wide-open plaza, really. The busiest area of the temple grounds. During festival weeks, pilgrims to Jerusalem camped out in the Kidron Valley. They couldn’t leave the precincts of the holy city, so this is where they slept. If there were any place at the temple where you could most be seen by the largest numbers of people, this was it.
And this is where Satan took our Lord. And told him to jump.
You’re the Son of God! Do it! Throw yourself down! Jump! It’ll be amazing! It’ll be spectacular! Perform a miracle! Do something incredible! Give everybody something to talk about! Something they’ll never forget! It’ll change their lives! For years they’ll tell their children and grandchildren about that day the angels rescued Jesus! It’ll be so cool!
Jesus, you jump off the temple today and tomorrow they’ll pack that little synagogue up in Capernaum where you teach! Do it! They’ll love it! You’ll be the most popular rabbi in all of Israel! The guy who jumped off the temple and lived! Think of the crowds! Think of all the people you can touch! You’ll be a celebrity! You’ll be a rock star! You’ll have the biggest following! It’ll prove you’re anointed by God! It’ll prove God’s favor rests on you! Do it!
I think the devil is tempting Jesus to do something big. Something important. Something that could win him great applause. I think he wants Jesus to seek the praise of men and to desire prominence or status in the community.
I have a desire to be important. I have a desire for everybody to like me. I have a desire to dazzle people. And I’m not sure those desires are always holy.
I want every single sermon I preach to the best one anybody’s ever heard. I want to come up with illustrations that everybody will be talking about for months. I want to be popular with the teenagers. I want the older people to love me. I want to meet the needs of every single person in our church.
I’m afraid, if I’m honest, I spend a great deal of my time and energy every week trying to do something big and important. And while I’m certain that not all of that is bad, I assure you not all of it is holy. Or Christ-like. If it were, I wouldn’t feel the way I feel when I fail. So often.
I’m a long way from my Lord.
Jesus absolutely refuses to be a stunt man. He won’t do it. He did not come to this earth to prove himself. He did not come to walk on hot coals or swallow fire or stick his head in a lion’s mouth to prove he had something to say.
What is this thinking that I have to do something big? Where do I get that I have to do something important?
Jesus finds his worth, he finds his value, in the fact that he is loved by God and approved by God and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit to join him in a mission to redeem the world. God had already told him this. Jesus had already heard the voice. He knew this. God doesn’t have to prove anything.
And neither do I.
We don’t test God. We trust God.
And we find our value, our worth, our importance in the truth that we are chosen by God, we are loved by God, we’re approved by God, we’re being saved by God, and we’re on a mission with God to redeem the world.