February 19, 2010

Feb. 19: Temptations in the desert


By Chris Wood, associate professor of nursing
SCRIPTURE: Luke 4:1-13 (NRSV)
Scroll down for complete Scripture.

The season of Lent is a time not usually found among most people’s top 10 favorites. However, this year’s Goshen College theme “Holding On and Letting Go” cries out for notice, especially in view of the temptation narrative found in Luke 4:1-13.

Focusing on the encounter between Jesus and Satan as a cosmic good versus evil battle may allow us to be mere spectators viewing the drama of the three temptations. Instead, I invite us to examine the personal implications of these temptations within the context of a contemporary desert experience.

This desert involves spending time without TV, Internet, iPod, etc. The quiet of this non-media desert allows contemplation of questions inherent in each temptation calling for important choices.

The first temptation considers who I am in this world. Am I so important that the world cannot get along without me? Or, am I a child of God with a unique role in making the world a better place?

Next, the second temptation addresses my actions in the world. Am I going to lead an unreflective life, merely moving through each day? Or am I going to explore how I might act for the greatest good?

Finally, the third temptation requires examination of my motivations for acting. Am I doing what I do just to get ahead, oblivious to how others are affected? Or am I conscious of my connections with both friends and enemies?

Personal consideration of Jesus’ temptations can assist our choices of holding on and letting go this Lent.


SCRIPTURE: Luke 4:1-13 (NRSV)
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone.” ’
Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It is written,
“Worship the Lord your God,
  and serve only him.” ’
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you,
  to protect you”,
“On their hands they will bear you up,
  so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
Jesus answered him, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’ When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.



Comments (6)

  1. I found this phrase to be particularly eerie on this read-through:

    Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And the devil said to him, ‘To you I will give their glory and all this authority; FOR IT HAS BEEN GIVEN OVER TO ME, AND I GIVE IT TO ANYONE I PLEASE.

    Andrew February 19, 2010 |
  2. I am always intrigued by the last sentence “When the devil had finished every test, he departed until an opportune time.” (1) It appears there was never another opportune time for him to test Jesus and (2) it is a constant reminder the same is not true for us. There is always another oportune time for us and we must always be on our guard. For me, I need to let go of the idea that I have overcome any temptation for good.

    John February 19, 2010 |
  3. As I read the passage of Jesus’ sojourn in the desert for 40 days,I rejoice . As I begin my own period of reflection,by following Messiah’s example, I draw the conclusion,if I may, that we follow His example. We follow Him in Baptism, and in reflection,inthe period of time that we call lent.What a blessing,to follow His example.


    Tom Skayhan

    Thomas Skayhan February 19, 2010 |
  4. This is a very thought-provoking and meaningful devotion and I am thankful to be on your list again this year. The questions asked….who am I? What about my actions? What are the motives for my actions? These questions are brilliant and lead us into valleys of understanding and repentance.

    Shadra Shoffner February 20, 2010 |
  5. WIth this reading, teh word that came to me as I meditated was “temptation”. I relaize that I am easliy sitracted by the temptations of this world – the adrenaline rush. I felt both that “rush”, then the clarity of God’s word and the Holy Spirit that carry the truth. The message I receied that to reakky know God’s purpose for you I have to wait, in silence, in hunger, maybe bored, but patience, quiet and moderation are required.

    Beth February 21, 2010 |
  6. the three temptations of Jesus…. Desire for something you don’t have (food…), economic/political power over all nations, the testing of God and oneself..who will we worship. These are also our temptations in life. I find is amazing that the devil temps Jesus with what Jesus already owns… The devil’s goal is to tempt us with the exact opposite of what God calls us to be and the goal of Jesus is to bring us back to the holy state we were created to be. We can be certain that when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, the devil will also show up and tempt us. Our journey through the desert will be somewhat like that of Jesus’. Take courage for He is with us the entire journey.

    perla goody February 21, 2010 |