23 February 2007

The Temptation of Jesus

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is Luke’s Temptation of Jesus. I'm not claiming to do an authoritative and exhaustive exegesis, but simply to share a few thoughts.

The article on "temptation" in my
Harper Collins Bible Dictionary notes that:
...the temptation takes place immediately after Jesus' baptism, which is interpreted as his commissioning for the messianic ministry, a ministry to be characterised by servanthood (Matt 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; c.f., e.g., Mark 10:45). The temptation is not for Jesus to prove his divine Sonship to himself. Such Sonship is is never questioned in the NT. Rather, the temptation or "testing" is implicitly presented as Jesus' struggle over whether to obey God's call to be a servant-messiah or to interpret messiahsip in the traditional terms of power, strength, and conquest.
In today's issue of The Church Times John Pridmore writes:
The same seductive voice seeks to persuade the Church, as it sought to persuade the Lord of the Church, to be a power for good - to be a power for good. To use power to achieve what must be done may be a necessity for the army, but for the Church to do so is always idolatry. The temptation to "worship the devil" is not to do weird things in the woods at midnight. It is the temptation to stride the corridors of power. And, ever since the conversion of Constantine, there has been little evidence of the Church's attempting to resist it.
You know, I don't really even know how to elaborate on these two commentaries because it just seems so darn obvious to me.

But how many discussions have I had on the internet about how Christians must use power for good - indeed, about how we must use the power of military might for good.

How many blogs out there are calling for the Church to be powerful and for Christians to be powerful?

How many people go to church and pray to be given power by God?

Jesus chose servanthood rather than power, yet we seem to think that, unlike our Saviour and Lord, we can handle power. All that means is that we have fallen into Satan's seductive temptation.


Anonymous said...

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely?

I foget who said that, but that's the way of the world in most situations.

PamBG said...


Indeed. I believe that Jesus (and the Trinity) are about un-power.

Thank you for pausing to make a remark. I enjoyed your 'testimony' and your blog.