The Third Temptation

Satan saw that he prevailed nothing with Christ in his second great temptation. “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.” Con 51.3

In the first two great temptations Satan had not revealed his true purposes or his character; he claimed to be an exalted messenger from the courts of heaven, but he now throws off his disguise. In a panoramic view he presented before Christ all the kingdoms of the world in the most attractive light, while he claimed to be the prince of the world. Con 52.1

This last temptation was the most alluring of the three. Satan knew that Christ's life must be one of sorrow, hardship, and conflict. And he thought he could take advantage of this fact to bribe Christ to yield His integrity. Satan brought all his strength to bear upon this last temptation; for this last effort was to decide his destiny as to who should be victor. He claimed the world as his dominion, and that he was the prince of the power of the air. Con 52.2

He bore Jesus to the top of an exceeding high mountain, and then in a panoramic view presented before Him all the kingdoms of the world that had been so long under his dominion, and offered them to Him in one great gift. He told Christ that He could come into possession of all these kingdoms without suffering or peril. Satan promises to yield his scepter and dominion, and to make Christ the rightful Ruler, for one favor from Him. All he requires in return for making over to Him the kingdoms of the world that day presented before Him, is that Christ shall do him homage as to a superior. Con 52.3

The eye of Jesus for a moment rested upon the glory presented before Him; but He turned away and refused to look upon the entrancing spectacle. He would not endanger His steadfast integrity by dallying with the tempter. When Satan solicited homage Christ's divine indignation was aroused, and He could no longer tolerate his blasphemous assumption or even permit him to remain in His presence. Here Christ exercised His divine authority and commanded Satan to desist. “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Con 52.4

Satan, in his pride and arrogance, had declared himself to be the rightful and permanent ruler of the world, the possessor of all its riches and glory, claiming homage of all who lived in it, as if he had created the world and all things that were therein. Said he to Christ, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.” He endeavored to make a special contract with Christ, to make over to Him at once the whole of his claim, if He would worship him. Con 53.1

This insult to the Creator moved the indignation of the Son of God to rebuke and dismiss him. Satan had flattered himself in his first temptation that he had so well concealed his true character and purposes that Christ did not recognize him as the fallen rebel chief whom He had conquered and expelled from heaven. The words of dismissal from Christ, “Get thee hence, Satan,” evidenced that he was known from the first, and that all his deceptive arts had been unsuccessful upon the Son of God. Satan knew that if Jesus should die to redeem man, his power would end after a season and he would be destroyed. Therefore it was his studied plan to prevent, if possible, the completion of the great work which had been commenced by the Son of God. If the plan of man's redemption should fail he would retain the kingdom which he then claimed, and if he should succeed he flattered himself that he would reign in opposition to the God of heaven. Con 53.2

When Jesus left heaven, and there left His power and glory, Satan exulted. He thought that the Son of God was placed in his power. The temptation took so easily with the holy pair in Eden that he hoped, with his satanic cunning and power, to overthrow even the Son of God, and thereby save his life and kingdom. If he could tempt Jesus to depart from the will of God, as he had done in his temptation with Adam and Eve, then his object would be gained. Con 54.1

The time was to come when Jesus should redeem the possession of Satan by giving His own life, and after a season all in heaven and earth should submit to Him. He was steadfast. He chose this life of suffering, this ignominious death, and, in the way appointed by His Father, to become a lawful ruler of the kingdoms of the earth and have them given into His hands as an everlasting possession. Satan also will be given into His hands to be destroyed by death, never more to annoy Jesus or the saints in glory. Con 54.2

Jesus said to this wily foe, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Satan had asked Christ to give him evidence that He was the Son of God, and he had in this instance the proof he had asked. At the divine command of Christ, he was compelled to obey. He was repulsed and silenced. He had no power to withstand the peremptory dismissal. He was compelled without another word instantly to desist and leave the world's Redeemer. Con 54.3

The hateful presence of Satan was withdrawn. The contest was ended. With inestimable suffering, Christ's victory in the wilderness was as complete as was the failure of Adam. And for a season He stood freed from the presence of His powerful adversary and his legions of angels. Con 54.4