What comes to mind when we contemplate Good Friday? For most of us, it is the non-stop bloody ordeal lasting more than a few hours for Jesus. Rightly so, if you are a christian. But most of us realize there is more to it than that, even if it is on a subliminal level.
There was a heart wringing soberness prior to the physical suffering. Before that, there was AM I REALLY UP FOR THIS? Who wouldn’t have that question while being plagued by the horrific vision of what was to come?
Yet for a mystic such as Jesus, I wonder if He thought–THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN PREPARING FOR MOST OF MY LIFE. The temptations in the wilderness were constructs; asking Him to acknowledge another power outside of Himself, disassociating Himself from the Father within.
Are we not now plagued with the same constructs? Recall “if you are hungry turn these stones into bread.” Jesus replies “Man does live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Are we not tempted to believe that we never have enough? Enough finances, enough charm to land the person of our dreams or that dream job? Perhaps we believe we will go hungry one day, or maybe in the past we have. If we were to lend the listening ear first, we would hear how to proceed or even if that is the path we should take.
Jesus perfected I believe the listening ear. He also had no problem leaving the masses–the sick, the dying, the needy to go & meditate–fast for 40 days & nights if necessary. And not just from food or society, from the beliefs of sin, disease, & death presenting as power.
Let’s look at another temptation. “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, He will command His angels to care for you, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Jesus told the tempter “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” What are the implications for us in this? Certainly, most of us are not going to be confronted with throwing ourselves from a building to see if angels will catch us. However we are tempted daily if not hourly to accept something other than the Divine as power. It is quite easy to do, especially if you are unaccustomed to going within yourself first, and asking for answers or guidance. How many of us can put down the temptation to act before we ask? Or perhaps we have been told “leave it in God’s hands.” God is not going to do anything He isn’t doing right this minute. It’s up to us to lift our vision above the problem or circumstance before us through contemplative prayer. We leave our problems outside, just like those removing their shoes before entering a household. To enter the Kingdom within, we must do the same–with our issues or problems. We acknowledge Him “in all our ways, and let Him direct our path.” That is one way to tell the tempter, you shall not put the Lord your God to the test. What is this test that we should in no ways put God to? There are many. One I believe is believing there is God sitting around waiting for you to pray the right prayer to obtain a favor or answer. There is no such God. That would make a mockery out of Jesus, His teachings, & What He addressed as Father. Did He not tell us “it is His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom? Or consider the lilies of the field? They neither spin nor toil, but Solomon in all his splendor was not clothed as one of these?” Now only a fool would interpret this as an excuse not to work. However, it does bid us to rethink how we approach the Divine. In quietness & in confidence do we approach…what is this but meditation? Meditate on scripture, as well as spiritual writings, & revealed words. That will elevate us above our problems & provide us with respite. Then in that quietness and stillness do we receive; that will be our communion.
The last temptation was one of immediate gratification. It was not an and, or, or but question. It was a directive. “All this I will give you, if you prostrate yourself & worship me.” Let’s stay here for a moment. Jesus was being tempted to worship & acknowledge another power; one which appeared to be power. So let’s imagine for a moment if we can, that Jesus did what the temptor asked. He recognizes that which is tempting Him as power. He therefore would be denying all power was given unto Him, as Son of God. He would be acknowledging something external as the ability to make or break Him. That’s a fairly strong as well as relevant temptation.
How often do we see our job as supply? Perhaps you have been told that “I will make your life a living hell if you don’t do this?” And for all I care, you will not work again anywhere if you don’t do this? Now does this bring it home for you, in a way you understand? Let’s bring it just a little closer. You have the opportunity to pursue your dream; a position you may have been preparing for all your life. You finally get that big break; with just one caveat…perhaps it means a small compromise or a big one. Perhaps if you are an actor or actress…you get the idea. Perhaps you receive an inside tip that means you would never work again a day in your life, nor would your family ever want for anything. No one would know. No one need ever know. “All this I will give you, if you bow down & worship me.”
Could we say “Away Satan!” as Jesus did? It’s a big promotion. It’s the role of a lifetime. It’s money in the bank. Just one little compromise; and it’ll all be done. Now what?
Again, if we see these temptations Jesus faced as our temptations, we may find our answers. They are constructs, kind of like those of the MATRIX. But as fans of this trilogy realize, they are not real. What was real?
The MATRIX movies offered a bleak look at what their reality was. It was one person however, who knew who he really was, and it seemed as if everyone’s fate was pinned on him as “The One.”
Jesus showed us a different reality. It is not bleak or decaying as in THE MATRIX. However it does call us to do our part to lift our gaze above the pairs of opposites of good & evil.
But that takes work. “Many are called, but few are chosen.” “Narrow is the gate, and few there are that find it.”
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look for it. It means it takes extra work; beyond saying a few prayers, putting money in the collection basket, or Sunday services.