The Temptations of Christ

“The Temptation of Christ”, Ary Scheffer, 1854
The temptations of Christ figure as the consummate test of the Messiah in the face of His manifest Destiny. It is the Demonic attempt to instill a malignant pride into the Son of God, and to cause Him to act in view of the Christ’s true station, which is the seat of Reign, of the satisfaction of a Kingdom that in this case would be temporal and carnal, as opposed to Eternal and spiritual.

The three temptations are recorded in the synoptic Gospels.

The first temptation is that of changing the stones into bread.

‘The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”'(Luke 4:3)

Here, is revealed the temptation to live according to the needs of the body, in the error of materialism, and satisfy animality at the price of even obedience to the Devilish injunction, that would offer satisfaction for a piercing hunger, which was the condition of a skeletal Christ at the term of 40 days and 40 nights of fasting in the fierce heat of the desert. Jesus answers with the words of Holy Scripture, by iterating the authority of the Divine Word, who proceeds from the Mouth of the Father, in order to reveal the Will of God: namely that man ought to be spirit first, and ought to live first according to the law of the spirit, which is “agape”, a love that is sacrifice, or self-denying love.

The second temptation concerns the temptation of power.

‘Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant. 6The devil said to him, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. d7All this will be yours, if you worship me.”’8 (Luke 4: 6-8)

Here, is revealed the temptation to offer adoration to the Devil, in the error of Satanism, and receive material power for a period of time, for a reign in truth, though, that is doomed to fail, for it would be Demonic in origin and in operation. It is the temptation, above all, of gold, of money, of success, in their achievement at all cost, at the price of the possession of one’s soul, for a fleeting enjoyment of power that would be finite and limited, for anything that is created is finite and limited in its reality. Jesus answers with the words of the Holy Scripture, by affirming the truth of religion, that man ought to worship God, and Him alone. Here again, Jesus acts through the assertion of His Human Intellect and of His Human Will, that is of Human personality, as the Son of God, which subsists Hypostatically in the Person of the Eternal Word.

The third temptation concerns the temptation to glory.

‘9* Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10for it is written:
‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’f 11and: ‘With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.’”g’ (Luke 4:9-13)

Here, is revealed the temptation to glorify one’s reason in the place of Divine Reason in the error of rationalism, in the affirmation of one’s nature in the case of man as opposed to the rights of supernatural grace in the error of naturalism; in the case of Jesus it is the temptation to glorify His Nature on His Power before the appointed time, a sort of Negation of Truth and a False Enlightenment, the illumination of a False Light, for though it is True, it is operated without the consent of the Father, who is the Source of all Light; it is inherently a denial of the Eternal Law and the form of a false science that pretends to be light in order to generate wonder and the spectacular, but which in reality does not operate the Revelation of the Trinity, for it is realized outside of the Will of the Divine Intellect, that moves the intelligence and sees All in its Omniscience. Jesus answers that in the Word of Scripture, God in His Divinity ought not to be put to the test of producing a miracle outside of the normal course of events, without a Good, Loving purpose and at the inspiration of the Devil.

The three temptations all purport to test Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who in truth, is destined to rule the nations, and extend His Kingdom to the totality of the Earth. It is essentially an experience of solitude, in which Jesus Christ is confronted with His Mission, His Destiny, whose ultimate term is Death on the Cross, an Ignominy for the Innocent One, but which in the end, is the most Perfect expression of a Poem of Love that realizes the Redemption of the human species and the proclamation of the truth that: the human person has a dignity that is nigh infinite, and the human soul is loved with an Infinite Love, which cost the Trinitarian God a Son, and even a Hellish damnation on the Wood of the Crime.

Spirituality thrives on the recognition of the tension that is inherent to the soul, to the life that the heart breathes. Authentic spirituality is a heroism that lives according to the principles of obedience and sacrifice, that is, asceticism, and the recession of asceticism in religious life, involves the Death of Passion, the senescence of God, struck with a senility that is the religious amnesia of the century, the Divinity retreats from the world and abandons it to its logical laws, with the concomitant destructive consequences of a world that is afflicted by materialism, Satanism, and a False Enlightenment which on the appearance seem to grant joy, contentment, and pleasure, and yet which is animated with a thirst for blood, a desire for gratification, and the fascination with suicide in the adoration of Death.

True spirituality is to be the bond that unites the disparate members of humanity. The Christ points the path in the preparation for His Proclamation of the Gospel, of His Kingdom of Heaven, in the love for an asceticism that spiritualizes the Flesh and supernaturalizes the traits of the Spirit, of the Holy Face, and of the Powerful Voice of the Redeemer that resonated across the desertic landscape of Palestine in the first century of the first millennium. Asceticism is in its essence, a sort of a Romanticism of the spirit, a lyrical enamoration with suffering that yields a spiritual pleasure that detaches the human person from Earthly affections and instructs on the path of the spirit, which in many instances is often solitary.

The Christ is a solitary figure, whose life teaches the faithful on the need to recover the regality of the spiritual dimension and of the absoluteness of the religious fiber, incarnate in orthodox belief. This finds its true correspondence in the authority of Holy Scripture, that is the Word in written form, who instructs the believer, consoles his heart, and elevates his spirit to the highest Heaven, through lessons in morality, poetry, history, Wisdom, the supernatural meaning of Salvation, marriage, and the final end of Time in the peregrinations of the Church, the Body of Christ, throughout the ages. The Bible is the Book, at once didactic, allegorical, and transcendental.

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