This account will penetrate various spiritual dimensions of Jesus' temptation in wilderness of Judea. Experience purity of Jerusalem's temple, greed of moneychangers, lustful opulence of kings and rulers, brutality of war, humility of servants, subtlety of Satan's ploys, and ultimately Jesus' triumph. Then, reflect upon today's immorality and materialism! ____________________________
An Account of Jesus' Temptation
In this article I will recreate a known experience from life of Jesus, temptation in wilderness. According to Bible in Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus' temptation was said to occur after John Baptist baptized Jesus. From here Jesus went alone into wilderness for what was claimed to be a forty-day fast. The devil was said to tempt Jesus here. By telling story in my own words, I hope to clarify spiritual depths within experience.
Jesus walked up to river wherein John was baptizing fellow Jews. When a willing soul is submerged, flowing water brought a purifying effect. The entire body felt cleansed, inside and out; or so this was what John taught. The experience confirmed reality of scriptures referring to ďliving water.Ē It was as if Johnís hand was hand of God that could lift every burden from soul. Even men would shed tears after their baptism. The warmth of sun, smells from nearby fires, hushed reverence, and taste of river water on lips were memorable experiences, well worth journey to see John Baptist.
When Jesus partook of experience, an immediate bond formed with John. As eyes met, they clearly recognized their responsibilities. They were alive to glorify God. With this, Jesus experienced living water. When underwater Jesusí presence seemed to extend throughout river. More than connecting to source within every stream, water discovered its true solace within tides of every sea. It seemed as if Jesus recognized struggle of every effort, lifted as beads of water evaporating to form billowing clouds that fertilized life within every raindrop.
As Jesus rose from water, his eyes released tears. Some people clearly recognized sacredness of occasion. The atmosphere became alive. The glory of Godís Creation shone. Every aspect of life was precious, yet others easily found diversion and distractions. How many never experienced precious moment or too easily forgot its worth? John was so well known that people came just because of his name. Then there were a few that hid conspiratorial thoughts. Others sought to take advantage of easy targets. Who was focused on attractive women coming fresh out from water? How many were there to catch John at improprieties? Jesus could pinpoint ones spying on John, waiting to report any improper remarks against Jewish or Roman authority.
Rather than being disturbed by many people around or questions asked by his friends, Jesus left for wilderness. Here he could completely commune with God and know more of what would be expected of him. He needed to understand -- within depths of his soul -- how to best serve God. Ever since a boy he knew that he had something very special to do for God. At age of twelve he felt weight and responsibilities of High Priests in temple. It was within those consecrated walls of temple that all sins were atoned for. The sacred name and words of God seemed clear, as if he was meant to interpret them. Yes, he would fill Scriptures with life.
Jesus would remain in solitude until God clearly revealed his will -- regardless of how long it took. Going without food or water heightened his spiritual awareness. When he was one with himself and one with God, he would feel and know intent within all scripture. Here he could commune with living prophets, prophets as alive as John baptizing in river, or prophets risen to heaven and alive with God like Enoch or Elijah.
The longer he thought, more he concentrated on temple. Here he could experience a direct connection with unblemished lamb brought for a sacrifice. This creature was so soft and fragile. Innocence and purity were within its eyes. For a moment lamb would almost smile from attention of being treated extra special. A presence of royalty filled atmosphere, as if everything was perfect. Then suddenly a firm grip clutched neck. Fear overtook small body in time to stare into sharp knife ready to sacrifice lambís life. Rather than end there, an amazing change swept through entire temple. Blood was poured on altar. Sacred flames consumed body in a brilliant blaze. The smell of incense mingled with lamb meat. Scripture flowed from mouth of priest. The presence of God filled temple, drifting to pinnacle where true power of God met aspirations within every heart.
God felt close, as if Jesus could reach out and touch his Father in Heaven. In this moment Heaven was upon earth. Everybody whom Jesus recognized going in and out of temple seemed like his own blood, like brothers and sisters he missed yet hadnít seen for years. He felt tears of this homecoming. Each tear was a precious treasure. Here Godís glory filled hearts of everyone around, consummating each thought within blaze of Godís perfection. People gladly gave all of money that they had for purity of this experience. Godís love was real.
Then a dark mist seeped along ground and into floors of temple. As Jesus recognized greed and deceit within hearts of priests working in temple, shadows consumed altar. Loud screams came from courtyard where moneychangers lied about value and exchange rates of different currencies. The glow from temple seemed swallowed up. Chants of murder were heard. Within this darkness value of human life became worthless, to be pawned at whims of rulers. Here, a fierce knot tightened in Jesusí stomach and for an extended moment he felt pain of real hunger.
Desire and longing propelled Jesus high above evening lights of Jerusalem. He could peer in luxuriant houses of wealthy, or opulent lives lived by kings. Being surrounded by so much physical pleasure evoked scent of gorgeous women, dressed in finest silks that revealed smoothest curves of seemingly perfect bodies created by God. The smell of perfumes upon soft flesh filled his heart with an intense need to touch and hold such sweetness. These virgins were reserved especially for king. Then suddenly Jesus noticed innocence and purity of a simple servant girl. Seeking Godís confirmation of such an exquisite being, Jesus lifted his eyes towards God.
How could such priceless humility exist? Here was a girl whose only care was to serve her master. Though her parentís servitude kept her from being one of kingís wives, she served her master with undying devotion. From this view Jesus saw how love, honesty, and complete fidelity of this servant girl became true motivation that inspired king to perform any righteous action. It was here that Jesus recognized goodness in ordinary people who slaved their entire lives to provide a meager sustenance for their families. Mothers and fathers who loved God tried to do everything right as they labored to provide some opportunity for their children. Then children neglected their own ambitions to work and care for sick parents. Jesus realized light of God within so many good, honest people. Then as if in a flash of thunder, entire families were ravaged, left dead in wiles of war.