“If you kneel before me, all things will be yours.” (Luke 4:7)
How is it possible that Jesus was tempted by the devil?
Jesus was a good man. He wanted good things. One of those things, I am certain, was a swift end to injustice and oppression.
Like many of us, he may have been impatient to bring this about.
Jesus likely didn't know all his father's reasons for delaying the good things that are surely coming as soon as possible. While he walked the earth, Jesus did not know everything.
The devil argued that if all things belonged to Jesus, he could order them according to his own will, without having to wait for his father's mysterious will to unfold.
But Jesus was not fooled.
He answered, Where I do not know, I will trust. I do not serve my own will, and I certainly do not serve the devil's. Nor do I serve any good, no matter how noble, lower than the perfect good which my father is bringing about.
To try with violence to force justice to come before its time is only to delay God's justice—the only justice that can satisfy us.
We may see the things of the world as ours to order as we think right, but they do not belong to us or to anyone who pretends to be able to give them to us.
The things of the world are the Father's. It is from him and on his terms that we receive them.
That we receive them on his terms means we must give up any attempt to bring about justice through injustice.
The Father is putting things right in his own way in his own time. God's way is infinitely better than ours.
So let's work for justice with determination, discernment, and patience. And let's work in harmony with our Father's will.*
* I'd like to acknowledge my debt to George MacDonald's sermons, "The Temptation in the Wilderness" and "Jesus in the World."