A Devotional Thought for August 23, 2016:
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.” ’ (Luke 4:5-8 NRSV)
Christ on the cross–that was the message with which Paul set out. That was his God. That was the God for whom the first martyrs died. It was the God that Luther rediscovered. Christ on the cross, Christ the hidden king of the hidden kingdom–that is the message of the Protestant church.
Jesus could have been the ruler of the world. As the Messiah the Jews had dreamed of, he could have liberated Israel and led it to glory and honor. He could have entered as the visible king of the world. Jesus could have had all…he could be their ruler. But he also knows that for this rule he would have to pay a price that is too high for him. It would come at the cost of his obedience to the will of God. He would have to bow down before the devil, sink to his knees before him, worship him. That means he would have become a slave and would no longer be free.
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
Jesus knows what this means. It means lowliness, scorn, persecution, means not being understood, means hatred, death, cross. And he chooses this path from the beginning. It is the path of obedience and the way of freedom. For it is the path of God…from the beginning he chooses the path of the cross. And we walk with him, as individuals and also as the church. We are the church under the cross. But even here we can do nothing else but know that our kingdom, too, is not of this world.
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, February 11, 1932 (adapted by Pastor Michael Edwards)