The temptation of Christ


The temptation of Christ in the desert by the devil can almost be drawn in a three stage comic strip. In that Jesus and the devil meet, there is a cloud of activity and  then there is only Jesus left standing. Jesus is tempted by the devil and defeats the devil in one 40-day event.Luke was a good writer as he made the temptation of Christ plainly visible. Sadly temptation for us is rarely that easy to either recognize or defeat. The same was true for the Israelite’s making their 40-year journey across the desert. Theirs is a journey of being drawn from the temptations of Egypt back to the one true God. While Jesus encounters the devil directly, and defeats that devils temptations directly; the Israelite’s are guided away from evil through Moses under the direction of God. Jesus defeats evil while Moses and the Israelite’s flee from it; in their unique circumstances they battle temptation. They wrestle with good versus evil, and evil is tempting.Temptation is after all the desire to do something rewarding now that you will regret later.It can be considered an instant solution with lingering suffering.Temptation is also part f the human experience. It is what gets Adam and Eve expelled from the garden, it keeps the Hebrews in slavery, and these same Hebrews wrestle with it on their Journey to the promised land. It also is something we are given a free choice on what we will follow, whether we will give in to its trickery, or defeat it as Christ does. While many of those Hebrews did make the Journey from Egypt to the land of promise, many too chose to return to their land of slavery. They choose the certainty of their past rather than the promise of their future.The temptation of Christ is a reminder of the temptation we face, if he was put to the test can we not expect the same? He too shows the defeat of those temptations, he declines the material goods, and chooses the gifts of God. He rejects greed, and foolishness. In his defeat of the devil, is Jesus not uniquely qualified to guide us on our journey? Jesus’s 40-days in the desert follow after his baptism, where God declares “this is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” The temptation of Christ gives reminder of the opponent, and his mission to guide us in our battle with this same tempter.This voluntary journey into the desert is at once a description of that mission to defeat Satin, it also is a statement that this mission is of his choosing. Christ’s mission from baptism to Calgary is of his choice for redemption of our sins. Jesus’s battle with the devil also highlights another battle that many of the ancient Israelite’s were familiar with and that is the patriarch Jacob’s wrestling with an angel as told in Genesis. In that story Jacob wrestles with the angel “until the break of day” and when the angel realizes that he did not prevail over Jacob he touches Jacobs hip socket and dislocates it. The angel then requests that Jacob let him go because the day has broken. Jacob refuses saying “I will not let you go until you bless me”. It is here that the angel changes Jacobs name to Israel. The meaning of that name, Israel, is “he who struggles with God.” The place where this battle took place is east of the Jordan river, the river of Jesus baptism. Its name Penuel, means ” I saw God face to face and my life was spared.”

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