Tuesday, January 3, 2017

JANUARY 3 "THE GREAT AND NOT SO GREAT, TEMPTATION!"

When we have the opportunity to read about the confrontation between the devil and Jesus; and what manor of temptation the devil is going to tempt Jesus with, we are thinking...."this should be good!" Oddly enough, if we'll be honest, this scenario falls kind of flat. It is definitely hurting in the area of action and drama. The temptations do not seem at all,  "overtly spectacular!".
 3 Temptations the devil throws at Jesus. These 3 are going to be, or should be "the devil's best".  The first one is for Jesus to tempt God or put God to the test by throwing himself off the cliff. The 2nd is to yield to evil for power and the 3rd is to satisfy the craving of his flesh. These, I don't find, to be out of the ordinary temptations, they are actually, pretty common temptations. We see people every day, tempt God, yield to evil to gain power and we see people give in every day to the cravings of the flesh.  Perhaps our temptations, like Jesus' don't look that extraordinary either, to others. We create a story that makes our temptations seem like they were extraordinary and impossible to resist under the circumstances. I believe many have read through this passage thinking it was going to be quit dynamic, but yet the reading does not really measure up. I believe most breeze through these pages thinking these temptations and this dual between JESUS and the Devil is a little weird and really not that powerful or interesting a read.  "Jesus is starving in the desert and the devil temps him to turn a rock into bread and Jesus doesn't do it".  Doesn't read....to be too exciting, that's for sure. We, perhaps were looking for something a little more juicy than that scenario. Well I'm sure Hollywood could script something together a little more salacious than that, ie: " The Last Temptation of Christ", but in the end, doesn't all sin/temptation fall under one of these categories; an affair is started because one or two individuals give in and satisfy their flesh or someone comes  into great prominence and power by yielding to evil?  We would like to make our sin, our temptations seem like they were out of the ordinary, but perhaps when we read about the temptations you faced we will see them the same way......"not at all that extraordinary" but rather "what is common to man". If I can present my temptations to seem like they were unbelievable then I don't have to be ashamed that I gave in. However if the truth be known, that my temptations were the same we all face and I just choose to give in and ruin my marriage, ruin my life, ruin my children, well now I'm looking bad and we don't like that. The story of your temptations isn't anymore exciting than what we read today. We give in to temptation not because the temptations were so strong, but because we wanted to and because we are, selfish and self-centered. Esau faced the same temptation as Jesus, Esau's justification was that he was going to die if he couldn't eat that bowl of stew. He took a temptation that seemed pretty ordinary and made it sound so grand that we would sympathize with Esau and say, " how could poor Esau have resisted". That's the thinking in his mind and some of your minds. But how many have you ever heard of that have sympathy for Esau? Most think of him as a fool for giving in. And we would have thought very much less of Jesus for giving in to his flesh. Perhaps you are getting ready to give in to temptation and already in your mind you are building up this great scenario of how extraordinary your circumstances and temptation was so you can excuse yourself, but the fact is, when we read the story of temptation, between you and the devil, we will read it as ordinary as the one we read today between Jesus and the devil and we will know the truth and think you a fool, for all that you lost and forfeited because you were hungry and you allowed the devil to tempt you and cause you to forfeit all for a piece of bread or a bowl of stew or a woman, a man, a drug, or financial pay out, whatever it be, we will think you "a fool" for allowing the devil to actually talk you in to tempting God, yielding to evil for power or giving in to fleshly cravings. In either case, you will be unexcused and deemed a fool for giving in, to the most basic temptations, that which is common to all men.