“For this reason God raised him to the highest place above and gave him the name that is greater than any other name. And so, in honour of the name of Jesus all beings in heaven, on earth, and in the world below will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11
I shall never forget standing in the Champs Elysees, in 2012, awestruck as I watched the magnificent Military Parade and Fly Past, in celebration of the French National Festival. It was a glittering show of colour, precision and power which held tourists and Parisians enthralled.
Pomp and ceremony can hold a great allure for human nature, whether it’s to watch a royal occasion, a national festival parade, or a glamorous award ceremony; because it’s so different to the mundanity of the ordinary world. It can give a fascinating glimpse into a world of wealth, power and fame which often creates its own rules and values which people revere, because of the players, even though not all those living this lifestyle adhere to them.
But wealthy and powerful, or not, everyone faces the same daily temptations and spiritual battles in life. But perhaps Jesus said, “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:25) because without wealth we cannot have illusions that we are better than we actually are, and that we don’t need God’s grace, whereas maybe “those who are poor in the eyes of the world are chosen to be rich in faith” James 2:5 because they rely on Him more easily.
Even if God should bless us with great wealth, when our focus is the Kingdom, we have Jesus’ teachings, which each person has to learn, which help to keep us on the right path.
Power, prestige and physical needs were the foci of the temptations that the devil offered to Jesus in the desert. They were not the only temptations in that forty day period, but the significant ones in Jesus’ life that, if the devil had succeeded, would have ensured that He would never have reached the cross to win the victory over death, and everything would have been lost. These same temptations are the ones that have most affected the lives of people throughout history, and still do.
But Jesus never lost sight of why He had come to earth. He rejected the devil’s bread and refused to satisfy His hunger; He refused to test His father’s power to save Him, if He threw Himself off the pinnacle of the Temple; and He refused to worship the devil, as He rejected his offer of the power and wealth of all the kingdoms of the earth – if Jesus would bow to him.
But Jesus entered Jerusalem “righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9) surrounded by crowds shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest heaven!"(Matthew 21:9)
Prayer: Glorious Lord Jesus, Thank You that You did not falter in any way, but won the victory over sin and death. In honour of Your name “all beings … will fall on their knees, and all will openly proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Amen