Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blogging Towards Sunday, March 13th

This peculiar passage about Jesus occurs at the onset of his public speaking and presence.  It seems peculiar as there is no other encounter story in the gospel between Satan (the divider) and Jesus (the great uniter).  Is it a test?  Is it him beating the devil?  It is theological?; metaphorical?; historical?  And how does such a story apply to our lives?

Jesus is asked three times to use his powers for his own good.  He rejects the invitations to self-usurping power or submission to another power in order to gain seemingly unlimited independence.  What's striking in the text is less that the devil is there tempting him, then the way in which scripture is used in this episode.  Satan will quote the Torah to entice him to use his divinity to bring himself glory.  Then Jesus responds quoting different scripture to reaffirm his sonship, submission to God and clear view of his personal identity and purpose.

Maybe the point of the passage is mostly about identity: not losing site of who we are in order to gain what we think we want.  Not forgetting our place in order to move to the front of the line.  Not forgetting that we are created first and foremost for life-in-community versus community-serving-us.  All of the temptations seem to be twists on scripture, deformations of what seems good and right - not inherently evil, but a deforming tweak of what is true.  How often do we allow ourselves to be tweaked, twisted and turned from the way in life?  From seeing ourselves in God's vision of belovedness, to seeing ourselves as imperfect, in-need-of-things, and overweight according to the twisted vision of modern marketing and the marketplace?  How often do we miss out on knowing God as a loving, empowering and life-affirming presence because we struggle to imagine that anyone would love us so?

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