Sunday, April 05, 2015

This week's lesson (April 4-10): baptism and the temptations

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." -- Hebrews 4:15f (NIV).
What would you do with a billion dollars?

Not enough?

Okay, we'll make it a trillion.

Understand the lure of unlimited wealth, after all, and you understand the quiz in Luke 4:1-13 . . .

And yes, it's an quiz; the word we translate as "temptation" ("peirasmos") carries with it the idea of an assay, an exam, an attempt to figure out just exactly what's going on around here.

(Come to think of it, "Satan" was originally a title given the Persian officials who were the equivalent of our "Inspectors-General" or "auditors.")

To borrow an image from Kierkegaard, in other words, the devil shows up in a cheap, brown suit . . . opens his battered briefcase . . . pulls out a notebook and a #2 pencil . . . then proceeds to ask Jesus "a few, simple questions -- just for the record."
  • "If you are the Son of God, then you can do anything you want -- am I right?"
  • "If you are the Son of God, then you must be invulnerable to any harm -- isn't that correct?"
  • "And if you could be the most powerful person on this planet, then what would you do in order to be that person?"
In short, the temptations are a personality test; they're the devil's attempt to figure out just what Jesus is really like.
Does he have unlimited powers of his own?
Would he like unlimited powers of his own?
Or does he rely on God -- does he say, "Thy will be done"?
To be sure, you don't need to be the Son of God in order to take this test.
You don't even need a trillion dollars.
No, all it takes it what you've got today.

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