The Slanderer (Diabolos) knows his target well. He has some understanding of the mission to which Jesus has been called. He knows why Jesus is here.
The key terms are kingdoms, authority and glory. The Slanderer offers Jesus what he seeks; he offers Jesus a similar vision but a different mission. The price? A new allegiance.
Kingdom is at the heart of Jesus’s ministry. Jesus was sent into the world to herald the good news of the kingdom of God which subverts the kingdoms of the world and bring the whole earth under his reign of God.
Authority is an issue in the ministry of Jesus. He has authority to cast our demons, forgive sin, and to heal diseases. His authority subverts the authorities of the world that oppose his mission. It is a contest between the “power (authority) of darkness” and the kingdom of God (Luke 22:53).
Glory is the high stake of this contest. Jesus anticipates the glory of the Son of Man when he comes again which was pictured for him in the glory of the transfiguration. But it is a glory that only comes after first suffering (Luke 24:26).
Kingdom, authority and glory. The Slanderer offers what the ministry of Jesus will achieve. The key, however, is that the Slanderer offers it without suffering. His only condition is worship. If Jesus would only bow down before the Slanderer, then he could have all he desires–everything his accomplished mission would achieve for him–without suffering. Jesus could be king without a cross.
Worship is about allegiance. Switch allegiances, and you can have your heart’s desire without carrying a cross. The Slanderer will give it without cost, without pain, without struggle.
Ambitions can turn our allegiance. The easier path often seems like the better one. Forks in the road demand a choice, and Jesus has the choice to secure his reign through a pledge of allegiance to the Slanderer or fulfill the mission given by God.
Lent reminds us that the mission is more important than the cost.