[Then the devil took Him up [to a very high mountain] and revealed to Him all the kingdoms of the world [and their glory] in a moment of time. “I will give You the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to You if You fall down and will worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the LORD your God and serve only Him.'”] [Deut 6:13] Luke 4:5-8
The first issue we must deal with in Luke’s account of the second temptation is the change in the order of the temptations of Christ between Matthew and Luke. It is clear that Luke has switched the order of the last two temptations around.
|1. Turn stone to loaves||1. Turn stone to a loaf|
|2 Protection||2. Worship|
|3. Worship||3. Protection|
Why has Luke switched them? – assuming that it is he who has made the change.
The change in order of the temptations is very interesting to say the least. Luke’s order is more natural in terms of geographic sequence. The first two take place in the wilderness and then they come to Jerusalem. This seems to fit more with the natural order in which one would expect things to happen. But of course they don’t necessarily have to do it in a geographical sequence. Matthew’s order appears to be follow a logical sequence from the lowest level of temptation to the highest. His order seems to present a physical bodily temptation, followed by a temptation of emotional, will and psyche, then finally a spiritual temptation of who to worship. That is always ultimately where the devil will take you. He wants your worship and your allegiance. Albeit for a moment. If you give it to him, you give him a foothold. Is that what you want to do? Matthew’s climax in the temptations is the high place, the mountain. Matthew appears to have a mountain theme in his gospel. Luke’s climax is Jerusalem and the temple. You figure out which one is the natural, original account and has primacy. But that is not really the point anyway. The point is to determine why they have made the changes and for what purpose. What should we take note of in that context?
I think it is highly likely that Matthew changed the order of the temptations to put the worship temptation and the mountain theme last. It seems to me natural for the temptation which occurs at the temple to be last. One because it fits the flow better rather than Jesus being in the wilderness, out to the temple and then back to the wilderness again. This would be case if Matthew’s order was assumed to be the actual order. It is also fair to say that it is likely that the devil didn’t actually have to take Christ to a high place. Besides which there is no high place in the natural world which would have enabled them to see all the kingdoms of the world at a glance. It is perfectly possible that the devil displayed these to Christ in a twinkling of an eye or even in the imagination or the mind. That begs the question as to what Matthew meant by “took him up to a high mountain”. Why does Matthew says Christ was taken to a high mountain? I don’t know because I am not focused on Matthew, I am looking at Luke. That is for you to take care of yourself.
Luke adds the phrase “in a moment in time” which Matthew doesn’t add. Some translations have “in a second”, others “in an instant”. Clearly something happened here which was beyond the normal. We are not talking about them going to a high place that enables them to look down on the nations of the world. Even if they went to Everest they could not look down on all the kingdoms of the world. All power over the nations of the world was in satan’s hand. He could do this and demonstrate that power to Christ despite the fact that we are left to wonder how. How is not what is in focus here. Rather it is the question as to why Luke would change Matthew’s logical order of the progression of temptations, physical to spiritual and ending up with who to worship? That is the ultimate question.
I think it is more likely that Luke, in his attempt to give an ordered account of the Gospel of Christ to “Theophilus” (Gem 733), would change Matthew’s order or maybe even the order in which the temptations were told to make a spiritual point. Luke is more likely to re-order them to fit the order in which they actually happened. That is, moving in geographical order. But I must confess I wasn’t there at the time and bottom line do not really know. It’s only conjecture and a hunch. Another question I have to ask Luke when I see him. Or if Matthew’s line is shorter at the time then I will ask him my questions and work out what Luke did until his line of people wanting to ask questions shrinks. Will tell you when I know. But at that time you will be busy worshipping and realise no matter what order things actually happened in, the most important issue is who you worship. We will look at that in the next gem.
Jesus is the central piece of [life’s] puzzle. If we fit Him into place, the rest begins to make sense.Chuck Swindoll
Don’t let the Gospel you preach, out-preach the Gospel you live.Ben Reed
Half our troubles in life can be traced to saying YES too quickly + not saying NO soon enough!Rick Godwin