Monday, December 15, 2008

The Temptation of Christ

Today I was reading in the gospels about the temptation of Christ. I had a few somewhat random thoughts.

Christ has just been baptized, the Spirit of God descended on Him visibly, people saw it. It's like He has now been publicly proclaimed to be the Son of God. Now He goes into the desert and fasts for 40 days, a very spiritual thing to do. What is His reward for this good spiritual committment to God? Severe temptation. Why are we so often surprised to find ourselves struggling while we are doing what we know is God's will? Perhaps that is Satan attacking us, trying to distract us from our mission,

Christ wasn't born on earth simply to die for our sins, but also to live. To live a sinless life. Often I tend to think it must have been easy for Him to live a sinless life. He is God! But think about this for a minute. He has now grown up on earth, an infinite being in a finite body. Was He ever hungry in heaven? No. Was He hungry on earth? He was a teenage boy at some point. Yes, He had to have been hungry. Now He has fasted for 40 days. Satan comes to Him and reminds Him of His own power as God; Christ can create food out of these rocks. It would have been easy for Him. It would have been within His rights as the Creator. I would have done it and justified it as a reward for fasting. But Jesus knew better; He knew this was not what God wanted.

Next Satan tempts Him to jump off the temple and let the angels catch Him. In Heaven was Jesus ever bound by the laws of gravity? Don't you think He could have flown if He had wanted to? He created gravity! Do you think He was tired of being bound to this earth? I would have been. I would have wanted to fly. But again, He knew He wasn't supposed to.

Last of all Satan offers Him the kingdoms of the earth if Jesus will bow down to Him. I don't fully understand this. Why should He even have to bow down to Satan to have the kingdoms of the earth? I know Satan has dominion here, but only because God gave it to him. For me, this particular temptation would not have been to bow to Satan, but to take back the kingdoms of the earth that were rightly mine to begin with and end Satan's power. But that was not God's plan. God had a different plan, not to simply remove Satan from power, but to redeem this fallen world. God's plan would cost Christ much more. More pain than hunger, more loss than coming to earth in a frail human body, more humility than seeing Satan rule in this world.

Jesus sends Satan away, defeated. At that point God's angels come and minister to Jesus. Perhaps they fed Him food from heaven, kept Him company as they had when He lived in heaven, worshipped Him as the rightful Son of God and Creator of all.

Perhaps if I could resist temptation myself I would see God's perfect provision for me at the end...
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