Up to a High Place

LUKE 4:1–5

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.


Could the high place of glory in your heart and mine become the low place of humble service that it was for Jesus?

It is a common notion that we see the world not as it is, but as we are. In other words, none of us sees the world objectively; we have perspectives and sight based on our brain and heart, and we look for certain things in order to see them.

What the devil saw as a high place for Jesus, and what celebrities and politicians see as a high place for themselves, was a low place for Jesus. Jesus was seeing the high place not as it was, but as he was.

For Jesus, the high place in his heart had just taken place in his baptism. He was seen by his Father, and he saw his Father and the Spirit at the same time. Jesus’s experience of love in those waters, I will contend, was the high point of his life. To know we are seen by God, to have our identity and purpose spoken clearly by God, to be overwhelmed by God’s great affection for us—that is the high place in Jesus’s heart.

But the best the devil had to offer was from a vantage point for self-serving power, acclaim, and privilege. He wanted to give Jesus the power to do whatever he wanted, with whomever he wanted, wherever he wanted.

He was chipping away at Jesus’s wants—his desires—and was finding Jesus’s desires utterly foreign to the ones that haunted other human beings.

Could the highest place in your heart and mine become the low place of humble service that it was for Jesus—a low place of humble fellowship with God, humble communion with others on the same journey into Christ, humble worship oriented around seeing the world served, the poor fed, the captives set free, and the human heart loved back to life?

Glancing ahead, in Luke 4, Jesus will leave the wild in the power of the Spirit, enter a synagogue, and begin to proclaim the high places of the kingdom of God—places where “the year of the Lord’s favor” (v. 19) does not mean acclaim or big houses, but rather the transformation of the human heart by Christians offering selfless, cruciform love in Jesus’s name.

The devil’s high place was a low place to Jesus; Jesus’s high place was a low place to the devil. He couldn’t be convinced of what many hearts today are so easily convinced of—that power turned upon oneself, the accumulation of wealth, the honor offered by others, even the acclaim that comes from generosity and benevolence—is the highest place that one could attain.

Jesus blessed what was unseen. And he knew that changing a human heart was worth more than all the kingdoms of the world.

We can live from this perspective, that to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly” (Micah 6:8) with our God is the highest place to which we could be led.

The devil simply took Jesus to the wrong place. He wasn’t tempted, because his heart wasn’t in it. In this, Jesus passed the test that Israel’s kings and power brokers, even the great King David, never could.


Lord of the Wild, our high place is fed by the vision of the good life, the high place, that is pumped our way by media of every sort. We choose to feed our vision of the good life, the high place, by choosing the low place and humbly serving in loving communion with you. In Jesus’s name, amen.


How does the low place of service feel in comparison to the devil’s high place of honor and accumulation? What are the differences in the feelings associated with each, and how can we train our hearts to love the feeling that comes with the former?

For the Awakening,
Dan Wilt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. To live with the knowledge that one is centered in doing God’s will, is in my opinion the highest place one can find themselves in this world. True treasure, heavenly treasure, will endure into eternity. The pleasures, successes, and accumulations of this world are transitory. The ways of the kingdoms of this world are indeed upside down from the will of God. Jesus came not only to save, reclaim, and restore that which was lost, stolen and tarnished by sin, but also to demonstrate to those who would receive it, a higher way to live.

  2. The living Jesus is the great Heart-Changer! We need to train our heart to continually open up to and surrender to Jesus.

    I woke up this morning with these thoughts being written on my heart:

    An open heart has ears to hear God’s Spirit. A closed heart is stuck in its own opinions. The human heart was created to be loyal to a king. If it closes to King Jesus it will surrender to the reign of deceptive desires. A heart closed to the risen Jesus is griped by pride and deception. “The pride of your heart has deceived you.” –Obadiah 1:3.

    The human heart has departed from God and needs to be renewed by opening up to and surrendering to the living Jesus. Jesus said: “Out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” If we will keep our heart continually open to His presence and Lordship, He will expel those things and replace them with His Spirit.

    King David cried out to God for a clean heart. Jeremiah prophesied that God would give broken people a new heart. To those who will give the living Jesus unending access to their heart, God delivers on David’s request and Jeremiah’s promise and “Christ in you” turns an evil heart into one being continually filled with God’s glory.

    Then Jesus will build His “ekklesia” (the town hall meeting in ancient Greek cities) on the rock of Divine revelation as He connects people heart-to-heart to His Spirit and to each other. See Matthew 16:18 and Ephesians 2:22.

  3. The low place of humility, when I have walked in it, brings a quiet peace and an inner satisfaction that nothing can rob me of. To remember, to think back to those times of taking the low place reignites this feeling of quiet satisfaction all over again. Remembering those times of trying to satisfy my soul with earthly acclaim, earthly gain, and earthly accomplishment is to feel how easily it slips away, loses its flavor, and cannot be recovered. As I age, I feel all those high places I once sought becoming more and more ephemeral. I cannot attain them even if I try. I am in the stage where I am more and more unseen by our youth-oriented world. But it is a perfect place to act secretly, to fly under the radar, and do the humble things with joy. This is the work that lives on forever. Thank you for this Lent series. It is helping me see who Jesus was, and IS, more clearly.

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