February 18, 2013

Luke 4:1,2- Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was temptedby the devil.

 

There is an issue here because while the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness where he is tempted by the devil, in chapter 11 of this gospel Jesus will teach his disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation,” Luke’s rendering of the Lord’s Prayer. I was kind of hoping that temptation was translating two different words in the two different verses, but alas, it is that same Greek word being used. Some places it gets translated as tested rather than tempted, but that doesn’t help my issue, which is that Jesus will be tempted, teach his followers that they are to take up their cross and follow him, and then also tell them to pray that they will not be lead into such an experience. I could understand if he said to pray for the strength to stand strong during temptation, but not to pray to avoid it all together. Maybe the answer lies in the way I’ve discounted in my mind what the above verse really represents. It is a short passage, only 13 verses, and, even though we are told it was a 40 day event, it is easy to write it off as another bump along the road to being the Messiah, just one of these things a Christ goes through. No big deal. Maybe that line in the Lord’s Prayer is saying, “Look, I’ve been there and it’s awful, and you need to pray it doesn’t happen to you!” What was it really like for the beloved of God to be in the desolation of a wilderness over a substantial period of time, confronted by the evil of life and personally challenged by it? Maybe that is worth considering during this first full week of Lent.

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