Monday, December 6, 2010

Temptation of Christ

Christ in the Desert by Ivan Kramskoy

After being baptized, Jesus fasted for forty days and nights in the desert.During this time, the devil appeared and tempted him. Jesus having refused each temptation, the devil departed and angels came and brought him nourishment.

In Luke's and Matthew's accounts, the devil tempts Jesus to:

1) Make bread out of stones to relieve his own hunger
2) Free himself from a pinnacle by jumping and relying on angels to break his fall. The narrative of both Luke and Matthew has the devil quote Psalm 91:11-12 to show that God had promised this assistance, although the devil implies that the passage may be used to justify presumptuous acts, while the Psalm only promises that God will deliver those who trust and abide in Him.
3)Worship the devil in return for all the kingdoms of the world. Luke has the devil explicitly claim this authority had previously been handed to himself, the devil.

A view popular for a time (for example, see Dostoyevsky's The Grand Inquisitor in The Brothers Karamazov) was that the devil wasn't so much tempting Jesus as presenting him with the different options he could take to be a Messiah, and making him choose one. Evangelicals point to the word usually translated as tempt as being more accurately translated as test, i.e. that the devil was testing Jesus' understanding of his role rather than trying to lure him to sin.