Luke 4, 9 – 13
Today's contributor is Nicholas King, a Jesuit priest, scholar and author who teaches the New Testament at Oxford University. For the Bible passages, he used NRSV for the Old Testment and his own translation for the New Testament readings. To read passages from the King James Version, click here.
Something to read
And he brought him to Jerusalem, and put him on the pinnacle of the Temple, and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, fling yourself down from here. For it is written, "He will command his angels about you, to protect you", and "On their hands they will lift you up, lest you stub your toe on a stone".'
But Jesus answered and said to him, 'It has been spoken: "You shall not put the Lord your God to the test".'
And when the Slanderer had finished every temptation, he departed from him – until the right moment.
Something to think about
Today we come to the climax of Jesus' temptations, and it is the urge, one that we have all known, to do the spectacular thing to bring about good ends.
When we give in to the temptation to be theatrical or eye-catching, we perhaps mutter to ourselves, 'But I am doing it for the very best of reasons'. We do not know what the 'pinnacle' of the Temple was (the word simply means 'little wing'), but clearly Jesus was being tempted to try flying, on the grounds that God would look after him.
What would this achieve? Most probably, he would end up dead, before his time. But suppose he had succeeded, and found himself actually flying? It would not have helped to build the Father's Kingdom; it would have brought about the Jesus Fan Club. But 'Jesus the Flying Guru' is not what it was all about for him, and nor is it for us. Jesus' task, and our task, is to point all the time, not to himself (not to ourselves) but to the Father.
Something to do
You have often seen people performing spectacular, eye-catching gestures, and you have complained about how they were showing off, or waited for them to fail, so that you could say 'I told you so!' Today, try having a look at your own life; do you think that you have ever gone in for something like that, and convinced yourself that it was all right? Does this suggest something that you might change in the way you live?
Something to pray
Dear Jesus, St Luke tells us that after the Devil had tried to tempt you, he departed 'until the right moment', and we understand that the 'right moment' was the time of your suffering and death. As we journey through Lent towards that moment, help us to be aware of the temptations that beset us, and to which we give in, all too often. Give us the grace to build your Father's Kingdom just as you did, unselfishly, lovingly, and always focused on God. Amen.