Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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"Then the Slanderer carried Jesus to the holy city and placed him
on the pinnacle of the temple, and he said to him, 'Since you are the Son of God . . ."
The devil knew who Jesus was. In Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, the Tempter was not suggesting that Jesus do certain things in order to prove to him that he was the Christ. He was not saying, "If you are the Son of God, then show me!" Instead, he was saying, "You are the Son of God, man! Use your power! You're hungry. Make some food for yourself out of these rocks! You are the Son of God, man! You need to be known! People will love this. Throw yourself off this temple and let them watch the angels rescue you!"
No, "that old serpent" was not tempting Jesus to prove to Satan he was really the Messiah, or that he really had a special connection with God. It was ignorant men, such as King Herod, who wanted Jesus to do tricks, to show off who he was (Lk. 23:8). Satan's motive was much more subtle than that. His words would have puffed Jesus up against God and brought Jesus under his evil control.
Even when Satan tempted Jesus to bow at his feet, he was trying to puff Jesus up. If Jesus had bowed to Satan, he would not really have been bowing to Satan at all, but to himself as no longer needing the true God. It is only when men raise themselves on high and, so, deny their need of God that they find themselves prostrate at Satan's feet. Pride brings every man to the incense altar of the devil. Who is man that he would even think to choose whom to serve? There is no choice because there is no God but one! The choice is already made for us by the God who created us. We will serve Him or we will die.
Jesus refused to lift himself up. He refused to become like Satan; instead, he chose to continue to be like his heavenly Father. He remembered that he was who he was only because God had made him who he was, and he remained humble in the sight of God. And if God wanted people to know who he was, then God would open their eyes to see it without Jesus, in his own will, trying to show them. Jesus refused to puff himself up and take that honor upon himself.