Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

Do Not Tempt the Lord Jesus –

But Worship Him Instead! Pt. 4

Sam Shamoun

We have arrived at the final part of our discussion.


Yahweh God Has Come!

Here is the final line of evidence which confirms that Jesus himself is the Lord God who should not be tempted, but should be worshiped and served instead:

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.”’… ‘I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. HIS winnowing fan is in HIS hand, and He will thoroughly clean out HIS threshing floor, and gather HIS wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.’ Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?’ But Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed Him. When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:1-3, 11-17 – cf. Luke 3:1-6, 15-17; Mark 1:1-11; John 1:1-10, 14-15, 19-36; 3:22-36

Matthew cites Isaiah 40 (as do the other Gospels) to show that John the Baptist is the messenger or envoy that the inspired prophet stated would be sent ahead of Yahweh to prepare for his coming:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make straight in the desert A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’… O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God!’ Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, And His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, And carry them in His bosom, And gently lead those who are with young.” Isaiah 40:3-5, 9-11

The prophecy clearly states that the Lord God himself is coming to manifest his glory to all flesh, as well as to save and care for his people like a shepherd.

And yet, as the context of Matthew 3 itself showed, and as the rest of the Gospels proclaim, John was sent to prepare for the coming of the Lord Jesus!

We even find this stated in the book of Acts:

“And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied. Now the men were about twelve in all.” Acts 19:1-7

What this means is that Jesus is none other than the very Lord God whom Isaiah said would come to save and care for his flock!

This explains why John could say that he wasn’t worthy enough to stoop down to loosen and carry Jesus’ sandals, which was a function of slaves during that time, or that Christ baptizes people with the Holy Spirit, a work which the inspired Scriptures ascribes to Yahweh alone (cf. Isaiah 34:16; 44:1-3; 59:19-21; Ezekiel 26:25-27; 37:12-14; 39:29; Joel 2:27-32). In other words, the reason why Jesus is so much greater and mightier than the Baptist, and can grant the Holy Spirit to his followers is because he happens to be Yahweh God Incarnate.


Concluding Remarks

In this series we examined Jesus’ words to the adversary that one shouldn’t tempt the Lord God, but should worship and serve only him, to see if he was speaking of the Father, or whether he was referring to himself as the Lord God since he was the One being tempted by the enemy.

We saw from our examination of Matthew and Luke-Acts how others often tempted Jesus, which was something that they weren’t supposed to do. We also saw how Jesus received the very same worship that God alone is supposed to receive. We then documented how all four Gospels identify Jesus as the Lord God whom the prophet Isaiah said would come to reveal his glory and shepherd his people under his loving care. All of these points strongly suggest that Jesus was referring to himself as the Lord God that Satan was supposed to worship and serve, instead of trying to tempt him.

Now even if one were to reject this interpretation, at the very least our analysis has shown that Jesus is identified as Yahweh God Incarnate, which means that what Christ stated concerning the Lord God applies equally to him as well, i.e., instead of tempting the Lord Jesus we should worship and serve him since he is worthy of the same honor and glory that God the Father expects to receive from his creation. As Christ himself stated in John’s Gospel:

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: that all men should honour the Son, EVEN AS they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” John 5:22-23

Therefore, true believers are those who refuse to tempt the Lord Jesus, but choose to worship and serve him as the divine, unique Son of God and sovereign Lord of all creation to the glory of God the Father:

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

Unless noted otherwise, all Scriptural quotations taken from the Authorized King James Version (AV) of the Holy Bible. 



Testimony of the Church Fathers and Bible Expositors

Here are some references from various church fathers, theologians and commentators who have also understood that Jesus was identifying himself as the Lord God who should not be tempted, but should be worshiped and served instead. These citations help illustrate that our exegesis is not something novel, but has been shared by others in the past, by men whose scholarship and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures are unquestionable. They even used some of the same arguments that we employed to confirm their position, e.g., Jesus received divine worship which clearly indicates that he himself is that very same Lord God who alone is to be worshiped and served.

Hilary: Thus beating down the efforts of the Devil, He professes Himself both God and Lord

Jerome: When the Devil says to the Saviour, "If thou wilt fall down and worship me," he is answered by the contrary declaration, that it more becomes him to worship Jesus as his Lord and God. (St. Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea (Golden Chain): Gospel of Matthew, translated by John Henry Parker, v. I, J.G.F. and J. Rivington
London, 1842 
Dedication translated by Joseph Kenny, O.P.; bold emphasis ours)

ye shall not tempt the Lord your God, thereby tacitly showing, that he had produced scripture to a very wrong purpose, since that could never contradict itself; and also, that for a person to neglect the ordinary means of safety, and to expect, that as God can, so he will, preserve without the use of such means, is a tempting him. The Hebrew word תנסו "tempt", as Manasseh benF6 Israel observes, is always taken in an ill part, and is to be understood of such who would try the power, goodness, or will of God. And which, as it is not fitting it should be done by any man, so not by himself; and perhaps he hereby intimates too, that he himself was God; and therefore as it was not right in him to tempt God the Father, by taking such a step as Satan solicited him to; nor would it be right in any other; so it was iniquitous in the devil to tempt him who was God over all, blessed for ever. (John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Matt. 4:7; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God: in the text in Deuteronomy the words are, "ye shall not tempt the Lord your God." The second person plural, is here changed into the second person singular, to accommodate the words to Satan; whom Christ singly addresses, and makes answer to, and who was under this same general law as other rational creatures: and Jehovah may be called the Lord his God, as he is his creator and governor; by whom he is upheld in his being, and to whom he is subject, whether he will or not; though not his covenant God: and even if our Lord Jesus Christ is intended by the Lord God, AS SOME THINK; he is God over all; over all principalities and powers, good and bad, by whom all are created, and in whom all consist; and whose power and authority over Satan and his angels, have abundantly appeared, in dispossessing devils out of men, sending them where he pleased, and in spoiling the powers of darkness, and in destroying him that had the power of death, the devil; and great insolence and wickedness it must be in a creature, to tempt the Lord his God, in any way, or form whatever; See Gill on Matthew 4:7 (Ibid., Luke 4:12; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

[2.] With an argument fetched from scripture. Note, In order to the strengthening of our resolutions against sin, it is good to see what a great deal of reason there is for those resolutions. The argument is very suitable, and exactly to the purpose, taken from Deuteronomy 6:13,10:20. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Christ does not dispute whether he were an angel of light, as he pretended, or not but though he were, yet he must not be worshipped, because that is an honour due to God only. Note, It is good to make our answers to temptation as full and as brief as may be, so as not to leave room for objections. Our Saviour has recourse to the fundamental law in this case, which is indispensable, and universally obligatory. Note, Religious worship is due to God only, and must not be given to any creature it is a flower of the crown which cannot be alienated, a branch of God's glory which he will not give to another, and which he would not give to his own Son, by obliging all men to honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, if he had not been God, equal to him, and one with him. Christ quotes this law concerning religious worship, and quotes it with application to himself First, To show that in his estate of humiliation he was himself made under this law: though, as God, he was worshipped, yet, as Man, he did worship God, both publicly and privately. He obliges us to no more than what he was first pleased to oblige himself to. Thus it became him to fulfil all righteousness. Secondly, To show that the law of religious worship is of eternal obligation: though he abrogated and altered many institutions of worship, yet this fundamental law of nature--That God only is to be worshipped, he came to ratify, and confirm, and enforce upon us. (Matthew Henry’s Complete Commentary on the Bible, Matt. 4:10:; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Luke 4:12 gives Christ’s reply exactly as in Mt. The nature of this reply probably explains the inversion of the order of the second and third temptations in Lk. The evangelist judged it fitting that this should be the last word, construing it as an interdict against tempting Jesus the Lord. Lk.’s version of the temptation is characterised throughout by careful restriction of the devil’s power (vide Luke 4:1; Luke 4:6). The inversion of the last two temptations is due to the same cause. The old idea of Schleiermacher that the way to Jerusalem lay over the mountains is paltry. It is to be noted that Mt.’s connecting particles ( τότε, πάλιν) imply sequence more than Lk.’s ( καὶ, δὲ). On the general import of the temptation vide on Mt. (The Expositor’s Greek New Testament:; bold and underline emphasis ours)

Observe, 2. The weapon with which he repels and beats back the fiery dart of Satan's temptation, and that is, with the shield of scripture: It is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God.

Learn thence, That God is the sole object of religious worship: it is so peculiarly the Creator's due, that to give it to any creature is gross idolatry, and repugnant to the scriptures. No creature is to pay divine adoration to any but his Creator; hence it appears that Christ is not a creature, divine worship being given to him. (William Burkitt’s Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament, Matt. 4:10; bold and underline emphasis ours)