Lenten Contemplations

Days Twenty-(7,8,9) Thirty (Mon-Thurs)


"Filled with the holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by
the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.  He ate
nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.  The
devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become
bread."  Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'"
Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him, "I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has
been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish.  All this will be
yours, if you worship me."  Jesus said to him in reply, "It is written:

'You shall worship the Lord, your God,
          and him alone shall you serve.'"

Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and
said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

'He will command his angels concerning
    to guard you.'

'With their hands they will support you,
        lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"

Jesus said to him in reply, "It also says, 'You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.'" 
When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.

Luke 4:1-13; The New American Bible

So much is said in this gospel passage.  On the surface, we see Christ in the desert after spending forty days alone and fasting; but he isn't alone.  While there may be no other person present, God is there, the Holy Spirit is there, and, the devil is there. 

Forty days of fasting can leave one very weak and in need of nourishment, but food and water alone will not suffice - for the soul will never make it through such an experience without divine help.  If you have ever fasted, you know what happens in the mind as our body withdraws from not having the daily intake of food - the body and mind can weaken.  Thoughts of survival surface and our existence is threatened and challenged.  Dormant feelings rise to defend our need to survive; our need to defeat death, if you will. 

As we walk each day most of us know we will have food, clothing and shelter - the security of these basic needs give us so much more than we realize.  When we are without one of these, our core is shaken and we are vulnerable to questions about our faith and our purpose for existence.


To have faith, we must have relationship with our Father.  We can believe in something higher - that something great and omnipotent is the creator, something much more intelligent than oneself - but that is just a belief and a recognition of a higher power with greater capabilities.  This is a good.  But belief needs faith to support itself.  If we don't have faith, our relationship with authority is whimsical - everything falls into a realm of random opportunity, struggle and perchance thrust upon us by an unknown power - leaving us with a dictator, if you will. 

This thinking will put us in a subservient, master-slave role to something we have no relationship, or identity with, and our ability to challenge, ask for assistance, wisdom, and guidance is suppressed.  In essence we take what is given - as some say, "It's what the cards you've been dealt."  This is fatalistic to life and relationship with the divine, and stands in stark contrast to creation itself. 

We are definitely given opportunities and situations, however, one thing that is given that illustrates we have relationship with the divine, is choice.  Choice enables us to interact and have input in and on creation, life and the supernatural.  Through choice we have an opportunity to change what we see around us.  We can pray to our Father for change; we can choose to call on Christ for help; and we can choose to accept these offerings.  Hence, I believe fate is only an aspect of life, it is a place on the path because we are given choice and free will.

In this passage we see Jesus walking in his fate.  What we tend to forget is that while on earth, Jesus was a man.  Albeit the Son of God, the Christ, but on earth he was man in human form and in great favor and blessing of the Lord, learning about his ministry, his role and his purpose.  He was to teach the very thing he came to give to us - relationship with the Father and the kingdom and how we approach it and receive it.  How we honor and respect it - that is our choice, as was his.  

In the desert Jesus hears God, prays in the Spirit, and then meets the evil one who offers him more than most would ever turn away.  We like to think we would do the same as Christ, but before Christ came along, no one knew how to avoid temptations and many were unfamiliar with the wiles of the devil; it took Jesus to bring that to light and expose it.  It took Jesus, to exorcise the devil out of man.  Without knowledge of our enemy, we are deceived.

Jesus, recognizing his purpose, given supernatural abilities, could have easily chosen the offerings of the devil.  But he was also given the power of discernment.  He wasn't interested in ruling over people, so why would that be a temptation to him?  He wasn't interested in indulgences, but rather partaking in the word, the bread of God.  He wasn't interested in proving who he was, for he already knew.  With some deeper contemplation of this event, you begin to understand that the reality of this situation is so intense and filled with so much wisdom and safeguarding for our souls, that it's wise for us to understand this passage clearly.

What we see is that Jesus, like satan himself, was tested.  Jesus could have taken the temptations placed before him, like satan did.  Jesus, knowing who he was, could have received those offerings unto him in the desert by the evil one.  What we don't consider is how difficult it may have been to be heavenly, in human form, and not use the power given unto him - except as the Father directed - and yes, this meant for him to subject himself to the very nature of man and his weaknesses, trials and temptations.  This is true humility - to be able to surrender the very great and awesome power of creation and destruction just to benefit mankind.  

What would Jesus have taught if he took on the challenges?  Certainly not what he has taught us. 

He teaches us is that the Word of God is the bread of life.  It provides so much sustenance, and we have to trust it.  We have to hear it, savor it, love it, share it, desire his Word - his truth - and become that bread of life so we are food to those around us, so we can continue to feed.  We will build up faith with his word.  We will see wonders when his word is spoken.  We will witness the transformation of heaven on earth as we continue to build up and speak and eat this bread of life. 


The devil was given dominion over the the systems of the world which explains quite well why he offered Jesus a seat of authority in the world and why Jesus rebukes him knowing his place in the heavenly kingdom and that he already has dominion over satan - for satan is a servant of God, a rebellious spirit seeking to bring man to his destruction and failure through separation and division in relationship with the Father.  This is why he tempts.  His minions seek to keep us weak and attempt to prey upon our consciousness.

The evil one knows the bible better than any of us.  He will recite scripture to deceive - his intent though is unlike the heavenly kingdom, the Holy Spirit, Christ and his saints and angels, and our Lord God.  His intent is to make one negatively doubt oneself and God so that you are bound and a slave to his psychological manipulation and deception, if you choose to listen to him.  How easy is it to lead someone down the path of destruction through temptations when that is your purpose and goal? 


But when Jesus is around, Jesus is inside us, Jesus is before us, behind us, to the right and left, above and below - no one dare interfere with him.  That is why evil flees in the presence of Christ  - his authority dictates and rules over them.  He has the power and authority to throw them into the eternal fires of damnation, so they beg, plead and flee to prevent their condemnation. 

So when the devil offers Jesus the nations of the world to rule over, and Christ rebukes him, Christ is proclaiming his throne in the kingdom of heaven and dominion over the devil.

The devils attempt to manipulate God's word in Christs' mind, bending meanings and enticing him with ideas of power and grandeur, is struck down by Christ, who knows God; who has faith, trust and relationship with the Father.  And it is here where the devil knows Christ is the Son of God, for he tempts him to call on the angels of God and use them to help him, knowing one of two results.  Jesus, if he jumps could call on the angels.  If he did, would God allow them to come?  Or would God let Christ die, and he would not have victory.  For God wouldn't go against himself.   So if Christ jumped, it would have been over - for God's plan had to be executed properly and orderly, according to his word, for our salvation. God has laws.

The devil was testing Christ to see if he truly was the Son of God, for only the Son of God, and not a man run by his ego, would know God would let him fall to his death.  Man may think in vain that he would be so important to the plan that God would save him, but God's law includes consequences - even if ill choices are made innocently - for this world was created by God in an orderly fashion and with intent to maintain that order. Do not tempt the Lord our God.

So, it is here where satan knows, he's finished.  He's exposed and he will have saints, angels and apostles upon the planet to claim what is God's - his children.  God is taking us back.  It is a powerful passage where Christ receives his anointment on earth by stepping upon the devil and placing him under his foot.  Satan knew this was to to come to pass, but only God ever, in all things, knew when and knows when.  

So not only do we get this lesson on Christ, but we see the workings and snares of the devil at play.  We become wise to the wiles of the enemy - a very important lesson to master.  We see his motivations, and how he's here to tempt, but cannot force.  And Christ is here to show us, it's choice to be in relationship with the Father and the Father keeps us from sin.  And he further illustrates that the bread of life is the only nourishment you need and will want; it's a nourishment that keeps you out of sin.  It is your protection.  He is our protection.  He is our grace.  He is our freedom.





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"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission."

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