Summary: "That defining moment" the peirasmos-the trying of Jesus
What Jesus Meant (the peirasmos) Part 9
Let no man be sorry he has done good, because others have done evil.
The encounter in the desert with Satan is what we would call "That defining moment" the summing up of a whole process-the spiritual quest during His adolescence and young manhood. The gospels present the "career tracts" Jesus was ask to consider - only to see that Jesus rejects them all. Jesus is arriving , by intense inner scrutiny and self experiment at His true calling. His own peirasmos (test) reflects the world-wrenching that the Essenes contemplated and anticipated in their apocalyptic theology. The three tests in the desert present in synecdoche (part for a whole) the drama behind the outer events of His ministry.
The subtlety of the tests is what makes them insidious, Each is an apparently slight - but fatal - distortion of the real mission of Jesus. If Satan can get Jesus to accept this diminished version of His calling, the Prince of this World will retain his hold upon history. Everything will depend on Jesusf getting the Fathersf will just right.
The First Test
Mat 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. Bread is one way of looking at the reign of the kingdom of heaven that Jesus brings to mankind. All four Gospels show Jesus miraculously feeding bread to vast numbers of people (Mat 14:21) And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children. (Mar 6:44) And they that did eat of the loaves were about five thousand men. (Mar 8: 8 ) So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. (Luk 9:14) For they were about five thousand men. And he said to sat down, in number about five thousand.
Jesus tells His followers to feed the poor and that failure to do that is a way of starving Him
( For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. (Mat 25:42-45).
If all these thing were true then why did Jesus reject Satanfs invitation to turn stones into life giving bread? Some will claim they are serving Jesus by doing just that. The political Left will think in terms of Christian Socialism. The political Right thinks in terms of a providential Invisible Hand (the market place) that feeds the poor. But Jesus did not come to bring mankind a higher political system. A religion that limits itself to assuaging earthly hunger seals itself off from the greater promise of Godfs reign, His justice (dikaiosyne) that is judgement. He says, instead, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Mat 5:6).
Jesus is not a social reformer, John the Baptist was the reformer in the mold of the ancient prophets. John tells the religious leaders not to be proud, and the tax collectors not to take graft and the solders not to agitate for more pay (Luke 3:7-14).
He warns of a coming judgement, but his work is all preparatory, his baptism (washing) is simply an intensification of the ritual cleansing of the Law. Jesus will baptize with fire, not water (as we still try to do today in error) (Luke 3:16) It is fire from heaven, opening a whole new level of Life- a spiritual level a spiritual life!
Another way "religion" drugs man [ "religion is the opium of the masses" Karl Marx] and becomes an opiate-by satisfying earthly needs, making heavenly aspirations unnecessary, occluding broader horizons. Jesus will not be satisfied with anything that holds the Father to a lesser glory than He promises.
In reply to the first test then "And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. "(Luke 4:4 )
The second Test
Satan ratchets up his probing. If Jesus wants greatness of spirit as well as physical satiation, what exultation of the spirit does the wold promise? And leading Him up into a high mountain, the Devil showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the Devil said to Him, I will give all this authority and their glory to You, because it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Then if You worship before me, all will be Yours. (Luke 4:5-7 )