Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
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.
When Jesus was in the wilderness, preparing his heart for the next three years of Gospel ministry that would lead him to the cross, Satan tempted him. It should not be overlooked as to with what exactly that Satan tempted him. First, Satan offered Jesus food and physical strength through that nourishment, with Jesus having been weakened by an extended period of fasting. Secondly, Satan offered Jesus popularity and power; that if Jesus jumped off the temple the angels would rescue him and then the multitudes would see him as a supernatural rock-star. Third, Satan offered Jesus power and wealth from having control over all the kingdoms of the world.
We need to see Jesus’ response. Each time, Jesus rebukes Satan with Scripture. Satan apparently thought the most effective way of tempting Christ away from his focus on the coming cross would be to offer him health, wealth, and prosperity, popularity, and power. I’ll write it again; to tempt Jesus to take his focus off of the coming cross and work of his upcoming Gospel ministry, Satan thought it best to offer Jesus everything the world had to offer. Jesus, in response, rebukes Satan.
Friends, beware the minister or ministry that promises you health, wealth and prosperity. These are never promises from God for the believer. What is promised to the believer is a cross (Matthew 16:24), suffering (Acts 9:16), and persecution (Matthew 10:22). Like Jesus, the Apostles, and the early Christians, we may very well need to lay down our health, wealth and prosperity at the foot of the cross. The first century Christians gave up their health to follow Jesus (Matthew 10:16). They gave away their wealth and prosperity for the good of others (Acts 2:44).
Some take the “abundant life” promised by Jesus to mean wealth and luxury. Some have taken the “All Things are Possible” (Matthew 19:26 – which is a passage that clearly teaches that wealth and prosperity are not necessarily advantageous for the Christian) and instead turn God into a genie that exists to make our dreams and ambitions come true.
You see, the cross doesn’t make living the “good life” (health, wealth and prosperity) possible. The cross makes living the “good life” irrelevant. Health, wealth and prosperity are simply three things that the believer cannot be satisfied with because we have Jesus. These are nice luxuries, but they are not promises from God. And furthermore, the forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross makes these things pale in comparison.