• Facebook
  • VK Profile
  • OK.ru Profile
  • Telegram channel
  • Reddit
  • Twitter profile

16 March 2022

To Whom Homage?

Satan tempted Jesus with political power over “all the kingdoms of the world.” But the man from Nazareth refused the offer. Instead of might and grandeur, he submitted to the way of the ‘Suffering Servant.’ But the most startling detail is that he did not dispute the Devil’s claim to have jurisdiction over the political systems of the world.

In the gospel account, Jesus is “driven” into the wilderness by God’s Spirit where he is “tested.” And once there, Satan tempts him in four ways, the greatest of which is the offer of political power - (Matthew 4:8-11).


Matthew records how the Devil took Jesus to a high mountain and showed him all the “kingdoms of the world (kosmos) and their grandeur.” He offered him more than just sovereignty over the Jewish nation.

In Matthew’s passage, “world” or “kosmos” can refer to the entire physical world if not the creation itself. Effectively, Satan was offering the “kingdom of God,” the very thing Jesus came to inaugurate.

In Luke’s version, the Tempter boasted that he could give Jesus “all this authority” if only he acknowledged Satan’s overlordship, and he claimed that “it has been delivered to me, and to whomsoever I will, I give it.”

Surprisingly, Jesus did NOT dispute the Devil’s right to dispense political power. And if Satan received this authority from a higher source (“it has been delivered to me”), that could only be God. Most likely, behind his claim is the original fall of man. His present tyrannical rule over humanity is a consequence of Adam’s sin - (John 12:31, 14:30).

To acquire this awesome power, Jesus had to “render homage” to the Devil. The Greek verb denotes the sense of giving homage or allegiance to someone or something, and not the modern Western idea of “worship” in a religious sense. Thus, at least according to Satan, to gain universal sovereignty it was necessary for the Messiah to acknowledge him as his sovereign.


Whether Jesus felt tempted by this offer the passage does not say. But considering that the “Spirit drove him” into the wilderness to be tested by Satan, the gospel writers must have considered it a real possibility.

And besides, Jesus was the Messiah appointed by God to reign over all the earth. But how could the Davidic king reign over the rebellious nations of the earth without the military and economic power of this world’s governments? Was it not his destiny to subdue and rule over the entire earth? – Psalm 2:6-8).

Effectively, Satan offered Jesus a shortcut to his God-ordained royal position, a way for him to avoid suffering and death on a Roman cross and still acquire political power.

And imagine all the good that Jesus could accomplish if he sat on Caesar’s throne and commanded his legions! With the military and economic might of Rome at his command, would not righteousness prevail across the empire?

Surely, if ever there was justification for the resort to State power this was it. Who better to wield the imperial might of the World Empire than the Prince of Peace?


However, rather than bow to Satan by resorting to the political methods of the present age, Jesus submitted to the path of the Suffering Servant. In God’s domain, true victory is achieved by self-denial and sacrificial service to others, and “greatness” is measured by acts of mercy, especially to one’s enemy.

And contrary to the messianic expectations of his contemporaries, and in defiance of Satan’s offer, Jesus chose to “take on the form of a slave” and became “obedient unto death, even death upon a cross.”

And because of his choice, God exalted him highly to reign over the Cosmos, and He gave him the “name, which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” But Golgotha must precede glory and ascension to the throne of David.

And the disciple of Jesus is summoned to adopt this same self-denying mind. “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus” - (Philippians 2:6-11).

In the end, every disciple must choose whether to “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” or to bow to Satan’s vassal, the “Beast.” The kingdom of God can never be implemented and achieved through the sinful ways and corrupt political means of this fallen age.

The institutional church has a long and sordid history of mixing Church and State. The temptation to use political power to impose “right” beliefs and conduct is too great. Sooner or later, advancing the Christian religion through the political mechanisms of this world always necessitates resorting to the coercive mechanisms of the State.

We need to take seriously the scriptural portrayal of political power as being part of Satan’s domain. If the Devil works behind the political scenes of this world, and if the possession of political power necessitates giving allegiance to him, and since Jesus himself refused to do so and instead chose the way of the cross, should his followers not follow the same path?

Are we not called to render homage to Jesus as our Lord and King rather than Satan? And should we embrace what he rejected? Alas, it seems, many Christians and churches prefer the Devil’s easier way, though appearances are often deceiving.