Ephesians 6:17; Peter falls for Christ’s third temptation and the sword’s use in reproof.

Class Outline:

Thursday July 14, 2022


“If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this (the Gospels). Myths were like it in one way. Histories were like it in another. But nothing was simply like it. And no person was like the Person it depicted; as real, as recognizable as Plato’s Socrates …, yet also numinous, lit by a light from beyond the world, a god. But if a god - we are no longer polytheists - then not a god, but God. Here and here only in all time the myth must become fact; the Word, flesh; God, Man. This is not “a religion,” not “a philosophy.” It is the summing up and actuality of them all.” [C.S. Lewis, Surprised By Joy]


A reminder of the first two temptations (remember the principles that you can).


The third temptation: Ambition (one last mad assault).


Temptation 3: Ambition - grab hold of something “similar” to God’s will. Clue: it can only be had in a wrong way.


MAT 4:8-11

Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; 9 and he said to Him, "All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me." 10 Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'"  11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.


The offering of the glory (all the wealth, power, influence, prestige, etc.) of the world shows us that the offer is more than a position of service, but of paramount status in all the world.


The temptation’s strength is in how like the actual plan of God is the offer. Jesus is to rule the kingdoms of the world, but not before He saves the people who will populate it. Plus, the kingdoms are to be given to Him by the Father and at the proper time.


We are to “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (1PE 5:6-7).


With contentment concerning the ways of our life now, we humbly wait for the exaltations that God is sure to bring, not in hope of material things, though they may come, but in the life of mature walking with God that will exalt our souls into the sphere of God’s love and virtue.


The temptation from Satan is to grab hold of something that is similar to the plan of God and blessings of God. If we are wise enough, we will soon find out that the thing or person in question is either from or not from God. Evidence of its ungodly character is that we must do ungodly things to achieve it. Jesus told us that we would know the false prophets by their fruit. Some say that evidence of divine good is that it is easy to do or easy to attain. That is an overstatement and so false. Sometimes divine will is as easy as walking through a door, but sometimes God’s plans for us are difficult, and at times, very difficult. Situations that God desires for us to be in are not always easy to attain or remain in. Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness were not easy, but they were a part of the divine plan.


The true things from God can only be attained God’s way.


Notably, Jesus used the same word (hupage) when He told Satan to be gone as He addressed Peter.


MAT 16:23

But He turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's."


It is important to make the connection between this encounter between the Lord and Peter and the Lord’s third temptation because Peter fell into the third temptation. Messiahs are supposed to rule, have all power and authority; they are not supposed to suffer and be killed. Peter is partially right, but he is missing something. Peter is like the blind man who only saw shadows after our Lord first healed him. Peter has set his faith in something that looks like the plan of God, but he does not yet know that it is missing something.


We all want to cut Peter some slack and on some level wonder if our Lord is being too harsh. How could Peter have known all that was supposed to happen? He couldn’t, and none of the disciples, men or women, understood what needed to happen to their beautiful and adored Messiah. Still, they are without excuse since the Lord Himself told them that it had to happen that He should suffer and be killed and that should have been enough. It wasn’t someone else telling them the disturbing news, but the Lord Himself.


The word of God always takes precedent over experience and reasonings.


This rebuke of Peter is remarkably severe. Even the body language adds to the effect. Peter took the Lord aside and the Lord “turned” so as to face Peter and issue a public rebuke. Jesus adds “behind Me” to his rebuke of the devil in MAT 4:10. Calling a man “Satan” is unprecedented and it has no parallel anywhere. That it would be done to a lover and loyal follower of Jesus is even more remarkable.


We must stay the divine course no matter what. God promises it will all work for good.


When life’s path seems not to be what we had expected, and in some of that there is difficulty, we are to pray without ceasing, as we always do, but with prayers like this in mind:


Psa 16 A Mikhtam of David.

Preserve me, O God, for I take refuge in Thee.

2 I said to the Lord [Yavah], "Thou art my Lord [Adonai];

I have no good besides Thee."

3 As for the saints who are in the earth,

They are the majestic ones in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those who have bartered for another god will be multiplied;

I shall not pour out their libations of blood,

Nor shall I take their names upon my lips.


5 The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup;

Thou dost support my lot.

6 The lines [boundaries of God’s plan for you] have fallen to me in pleasant places;

Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me.


7 I will bless the Lord who has counseled me;

Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.

8 I have set the Lord continually before me;

Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;

My flesh also will dwell securely.

10 For Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Sheol;

Neither wilt Thou allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay.

11 Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;

In Thy presence is fulness of joy;

In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.


Vs. 10 is a prophecy concerning the Lord’s resurrection. The same is true for all believers. Death is not the end for them, but only a promotion thanks to the love and grace of God.


In fact, finally gaining understanding, Peter would quote this psalm in his momentous speech at Pentecost. Where we see him in Mat 16, he is actually standing in the way of the cross.


Jesus’ choice of epithet (Satan) suggests that behind the human thoughts of Peter is an attempt to divert Christ from His chosen course, which is very similar to what the devil tempted Him with in the wilderness. Peter was speaking for Satan while Peter thought he was very good and right in doing it. Any of us might be used in this way when we are ignorant of certain important things, and we always are lacking wisdom on some level.


Peter falls for the third temptation of Satan in the wilderness. Satan suggested that Jesus achieve worldly power by an easier course than what was necessary and Peter also sees it this way - suffering and death are not necessary. Peter’s vision is that the Lord should take power; not lay Himself down to the authorities of the world.


Jesus had just told Peter that he was a rock upon which He would build His church, but now Peter’s lack of understanding has become a stumbling block sitting in between Jesus and the cross. Peter gets in the way of God’s purpose with what is natural for the human mind. It is natural to think that the Messiah who has all power and authority would never allow Himself to suffer and be killed, especially at the hands of evil men.


Things that seem good to our human thinking may stand in the way of God’s purposes and derail our realization of those purposes in our lives.