Monday, February 22, 2010

Have this mind

I had always thought the story of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness was a little strange. I was never sure why the things he was being asked to do were particularly bad, and thus, if Jesus’ resistance to Satan was supposed to be our model for handling temptation, I assumed I would be hopeless.

But I wondered as I listened to this week’s gospel reading if Satan was not tempting Christ to do directly bad things but rather to become a fundamentally different Messiah.

Satan tempts Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread”—but Jesus had not come to feed his body with bread, but rather to give his body as bread.

Satan shows Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and tempts him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory”—but Jesus had not come to be served, but to serve.

Satan tempts Jesus, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone’”—but Jesus had come to throw himself down to die without rescue.

In Lent as we empty ourselves, reflecting not only on our sin and mortality but also on the passion and death of Christ, perhaps we are learning the posture of our Lord who feeds us with his body, who takes authority by serving, and who shows his glory by dying. If Lent is a time of emptying, it is teaching us to take on the posture of Christ himself.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.


Christian H said...

Well, to be fair, the middle one is pretty bad, as in order to acheive it Christ had to worship Satan. That's generally considered to be on the wrong-ish side.

But I think you are right, that had Christ given in to these temptations, he'd have been a wholly different Messiah, and therefore not really Messiah at all.

Em the luddite said...

Fair 'nough... that one just seemed weird to me for a different reason. I mean, would it really be that much of a temptation for the Son of God to worship Satan? Come on, Satan; what kind of a push-over do you think this guy is?