February 25, 2015
Having begun last week with an exploration of the first two chapters of Genesis and how this text can inform our own creative process of discernment at Plymouth, we now turn to the temptation of Jesus as described in the fourth chapter of Luke’s Gospel. In particular, I invite us to reflect on the seduction of quick fixes which will derail even the most creative and
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
The tempter was not saying, “If you are the Son of God [but you are not];” rather he meant “since you are the Son of God. . . .” The tempter knew who this was, and builds his seduction upon it. Hey I know you’re special! Why should you be hungry? Just change some stones to bread. But Jesus went into the wilderness with the intention to fast for forty days. Abandoning this spiritual exercise because he was ‘special’ and therefore ‘entitled’ to an easier life and faith experience in this wilderness moment would have been to embrace and capitulate to a warped sense of entitlement and uniqueness.
The tempter continues, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.” Hey, Jesus you are way too cool and special for God to let anything bad happen to you. “Again, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. All this I will give you, he said, if you will bow down and worship me.” Hey Jesus, just think what a great team we would make! You deserve to be on the front page of the New York Times! I can get you hooked up with Beyoncé, a spot on SNL and a meeting with the Pope!
Reflection: All three temptations invite quick fixes and shortcuts to material needs, to status and identity and to influence and power; the trigger that sets the trap in all three seductions is a warped sense of entitlement and uniqueness.
1. In what ways do you personally live as if you were the “exception to the rule?” How does Plymouth?
2. How have “taking shortcuts” worked and not worked for you? For Plymouth?
3. In what ways do you live an “entitled life? ”How does Plymouth?
4. In what ways is Plymouth “special?” And also not so much? —Brigitta Remole