This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Tempting Jesus, tempting us

Jesus was in what was probably the Negev for an undetermined period of time, which is what they mean by 40 days in biblical scholarship (meaning he had lost track of time). Jesus was hungry so the first temptation was for Jesus to turn the stones into bread - to which Jesus answered that man shall not live by bread alone.

The second temptation was to worship Satan in exchange for kingship over the entire world, to which Jesus answered that you must worship only God. Pilate put the same kind of question to him, inviting Jesus to prove his kingship - to which Jesus answered that His kingdom was not of this world.

The third temptation was to throw himself off the temple heights to prove God's love for him, to which he answered that you do not tempt God by doing such things (if God sends you a rowboat and a helicopter, you take them). This temptation was repeated by those who told Him to come down from the Cross rather than remain faithful as the suffering servant, experiencing both the resignation that humankind feels in sin and the death we all experience.

After the temptations were through, angels came and ministered to Jesus - just as after the passion came the Resurrection.

Some argue that these temptations could not touch Jesus - that Satan had no chance (in other words, that the game was rigged). I don't believe that for a second. Each of the temptations would have had great appeal to Jesus and some of them have great appeal to us - especially those of us who labor in the Washington area. Many of us are offered chances to sell out our principles in order to succeed - to succumb to half truths and please the powerful in order to accomplish what we want. We want things easy and on our terms or go the other way and put God to the test, tempting providence rather than working for change. It is even easy to focus only on the economics, especially in the progressive movement, when those of us who are Christian progressives remembering the Christian part - there is more to our economic agenda than bread. We must also propose things to feed the spirit. We can't just give people money, we must also give them an opportunity to develop their spirits.

Jesus did not propose an easy path, for himself or for us - however it is a better path.


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