How to Combat the Love of Power with the Power of Love



February 13, 2019

Luke 4:1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.


Our journey takes a sudden and sharp turn following the gathering at the river. Remember, this is about power. John was looking for shock and awe kind of power. He got the revelation of the Divine relationship between Father and Son and  Spirit. Notice how today’s text begins: “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the  Spirit into the wilderness.” This is big power—the power of the Holy  Spirit.

He is headed right into the midst of a power battle. His sovereignty will be tested by the so-called sovereignty of Satan. Did you ever think, “Why didn’t Jesus just wipe Satan out– you know, a little swing of the proverbial light saber and it’s over.” That’s how we expect power to win—by dominance.

Now, I want you to notice the first step Jesus takes in the wilderness. He fasted for forty days. In order to prepare himself for this colossal conflict, he actually gets himself into a physically weakened state. Whereas we might prepare ourselves for battle by getting into tip top physical shape or by learning how to wield weapons, Jesus does just the opposite.

Watch how Satan goes straight for Jesus’ weakness. He starts with an assault on his identity. “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Satan is asking, no, tempting Jesus to demonstrate a feat of miraculous power in order to prove he actually is God’s Son. How does Jesus respond? It would have been a short putt for the one who would later feed ten thousand with five loaves and two fish. So why didn’t he do it? He refuses to exercise power on behalf of himself. Can you think of even a single occasion where he does? Jesus exercises power exclusively in the service of loving people. There is a massive difference between the love of power and the power of love. The love of power works through war. The power of love works through weakness.

Notice how Jesus responds. He counters this Satanic word of temptation by speaking the supernatural Word of God. The Word of God is the power of love.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

Matthew’s Gospel remembers Jesus also adding, “but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Do you remember the Word that came from the mouth of God? Yes,it was, “This is my Son, my beloved; with him I am well pleased.” Precisely! It’s the Power of Love.

I want you to look back over today’s text asking the question, “How does Divine power, the power of Love, work in the world?” So often, we project the world’s idea or our own ideas of power and sovereignty onto God. This may be the single biggest and most dangerous mistake we can make; to try and remake God in our own image to serve our own purposes. No matter how noble and even godly we think our purposes are, this leads to the love of power. This is why we must pay such close and careful attention to Jesus, who is the perfect embodiment of the power of Love.

In fact, this may be the essence of what it means to be transformed into his likeness—to renounce our love of power and be remade in the power of his love.

This cannot be overstated. We will need to remember this, particularly on our way down the mountain.

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt

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