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Lenten Reflections Project 2022

Sunday | March 13 | Caroline Huxell

Matthew 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. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve." Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

One of my favorite songs that we sing in the toddler class here at Grace Pasadena is called “Who’s the King of the Jungle?” At the beginning of the song, the lyrics ask, “Who is the king of the jungle, the sea, the universe, and you and me?” We then boldly proclaim together “I’ll tell you, J-E-S-U-S! YES!” I love this song not only because it has fun motions and a catchy tune, but because it reminds me exactly who reigns over everything: Jesus Christ.

As we enter into this season of lent, we are reminded that Jesus suffered and was humiliated on his journey to the cross. Right before being crucified, the soldiers mocked Jesus, yelling, “Hail, king of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29). This mocking of Jesus’s kingship feels all too familiar. While I’d like to believe that I would not be among those who mocked Jesus on his way to the cross, I confess that I sometimes question Jesus’s kingship in my own life. I have asked questions like: Is Jesus really in control of this hardship that I am going through? Does Jesus really hear our prayers in the midst of everything that is going on in this world? In these moments, I find my own voice echoing in the soldiers’ mockery of Jesus, yelling “Hail, king of the Jews.” When I question or doubt Jesus’s kingship, I find it helpful to turn to the gospel of Matthew. From the very beginning of Matthew, Jesus’s kingship is established when he is referred to as “the son of David.” This sets the stage for Jesus’s journey to the cross where we will see the unexpected ways in which Jesus, our King, reigns and rules.  

With this in mind, we arrive at today’s passage of Matthew 4:8-11, where the devil directly challenges Jesus’s kingship. After tempting Jesus twice, the devil approaches Jesus one more time and takes Him to a very high mountain. Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory and says to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Satan was testing Jesus’s reign as King and was tempting Jesus to submit to his way of ruling, instead of God’s. In this moment of temptation, was Jesus going to give in and reign like the many kings before him, up on a mountaintop and far from his people? Would Jesus submit to the devil’s ways and rule as the world rules, often with violence and fear?

For Jesus, I imagine that this temptation was challenging. Jesus was preparing to begin his ministry and knew that there would be a long journey ahead. His kingship would be questioned and doubted by those around him. Yet, Jesus knew that God had a good plan for his life and that he would be a king unlike any king that the world had ever known. Jesus responds to the devil and says, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'"

This passage reminds us exactly who Jesus is as King. Jesus did not give into the devil’s temptation to rule from up high, far from His people, and seeking after His own glory. No, Jesus would establish himself as a King who draws near to his people, who preaches peace instead of violence, who gathers together people from different backgrounds and cultures, and who intimately knows and cares for each and every one of us. Jesus reigns in a way that drives out all fear.
This is the same King who journeyed to the cross and gave up his life, so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life with Him. This is the same Jesus who is alive and well today, actively ruling and reigning. As we anticipate the resurrection, may we boldly proclaim and remember that it is Jesus who is the King of our lives.

* Caroline Huxell is the Director of Children and Families Ministry at Grace Pasadena. She loves being a part of this church community and feels so thankful for the deep relationships that she has formed here over the past few years. She and her husband, Blake,  live in Pasadena with their corgi puppy named Zelda. They have been married for a little over 2 years and met at Azusa Pacific University where they  were both music majors. She plays trumpet and Blake plays trombone and they still love getting to play whenever they can.