I Think These Days, the Devil Looks Pretty Good

Matthew 4:1-11The First Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 5, 2017

“Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him . . .” (Matthew 4:1)

Do I believe there is a Satan (or “devil”)?

No.

Do I believe there is evil?

Yes.

How do I understand Jesus’ encounter with “the tempter” in the fourth chapter of Matthew? There, after forty days and nights in the wilderness—where Jesus fasted and prayed, and inevitably was “starving”—the devil appeared and tempted him. Like God and Satan testing Job or Dante’s Divine Comedy depicting a journey through the nine circles of Hell, I don’t read it as an actual, factual event.

And yet I believe Jesus’ devilish confrontation revealed a truth—as the best stories do—and that every verse and, in particular, each of the three temptations, were very, very real.

They were for Jesus.

They are for you.

They are for me.

Do I hunger to serve the word and way of God? Or do I just want my belly full? What hunger tempts me? Sex? Money? Property?

Is my relationship with the Holy (and fellow humans) defined by manipulation, by bargaining, by comparing, by “testing” God?

Who or what do I truly worship? Continue reading →