Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent
“Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple…” (Matthew 4:5). As we continue to ponder this second temptation of Jesus, consider the physical environment in more detail. The devil took Jesus to this high and lofty place on the parapet of the Temple. The parapet was part of the flat roof of the Temple. It was a place where the teachers of the law would sit to show their elevated position—a place of self-elevation, vainglory, and pride. The devil had tempted many of the religious leaders of old with this vainglory, and they willingly embraced it.
This elevated position of symbolic glory and honor produced empty, not true, glory. It was empty in the sense that it was given by the “ruler of this world,” the devil, to those who were all too willing to bathe in this passing and superficial light.
Jesus, however, had no interest in an empty glory. He certainly hoped that all people would come to know Him as the Son of God so that they could turn to Him and be saved, but Jesus also desired that all people honor Him and glorify Him because of the truth that He is God and is worthy of all praise. This was quite different from the empty glory the devil was promising.
Each of us gives in to empty glory when we become overly concerned about the opinions of others. What are people saying about me? What do they think about me? What reputation do I have? This form of empty glory is not based on the truth; it’s based on the confused opinions people hold. Opinions do not matter. Only Truth matters.
Our true glory is found in the truth that we are sinners who are redeemed by Jesus Christ. We are weak but made strong in Him. We are sheep in need of a Shepherd. We are nothing without the saving grace of God in our lives. When we see these truths and believe them with all the powers of our souls, then worldly opinions do not determine our value and worth. Only our identity in Christ matters. We are God’s sons and daughters. This is the source of glory that will never change, except by our free choice to sin and reject God.
Ponder any ways that the evil one tempts you to vain and empty glory. Social media can be very useful for sharing pictures and life events with family and friends, but it is also one of the best examples of a modern way that the devil tempts us with vainglory. How many likes did I get? How many friends do I have? What comments did people make? When we become overly worried about such questions, it shows that we are overly concerned with the opinions of others, rather than with our knowledge of who we are in the mind of God.
My glorious Lord, You had no interest in the vanities of worldly glory. You cared nothing about the false opinions and judgments You endured in this world. Instead, You shared fully in the true glory of the Eternal Truth of Who You are, always have been, and always will be. Help me to shed the false opinions and temptations to earthly glory so that I can take my identity and glory only in You. Jesus, I trust in You.