Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words
Gary N. Pollard III
Satan tried to trip Jesus with a killer deal: “I’ll give you every nation in the world if you worship me” (Matt 4.8-10). This wouldn’t have been a temptation if he couldn’t deliver. What might Jesus have gained by having Satan give up control of every nation on earth? It would have made his job a lot easier! He wouldn’t have to fight with Pharisees or other hostiles. He wouldn’t have to disappear after teaching or healing. He could avoid the kind of rejection that broke his heart (Luke 19.41).
Sometime after this encounter, Jesus started to recruit followers. He may have had Satan’s offer on his mind as he was calling Peter (Matt 4.18ff). He knew Peter would be so ashamed of him that he’d deny any connection to him (Matt 26.69-75). He knew that every one of his followers would abandon him when he most needed them (Matt 26.56).
He still lived his life, he still taught, he still sacrificed himself for everyone. How many of us would still pursue something if we knew how painful or difficult the outcome would be? How many of us would continue to pursue something if we were given the option to take an easier path?
Jesus didn’t even retire once his mission was accomplished! He faced homelessness, assault, rejection, betrayal, injustice, torture, and execution. I would have retired after that in a heartbeat, and I would feel that I had more than earned that retirement.
After he went back to be with the father, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work. He’s a full-time mediator (I Jn 2.1-2). He’s making sure the natural universe operates as it should (Heb 1.3; Col 1.17). He’s keeping evil in check (Phil 3.21; I Cor 15.27). When the end comes, he’ll destroy the universe and judge every human who’s ever lived (Heb 9.27; II Pet 3.7-10; Rev 20.12, 21.1-2).
Whew. He still loves us (Rom 8.35; II Cor 5.14; Gal 2.20; Rev 1.5)! He still gives grace with generosity (I Jn 1.7; Rom 5.15-21, 6.14). We serve a tireless God who invested everything in us and will do so until the end of time. Life gets us down and we ask, “Why?” Just remember who’s watching our backs and won’t ever let us down!