Lately, Richard Rohr's Daily Meditations have been about the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness, and I must admit, I wasn't really getting the connections Rohr was pointing out.
Yesterday, he talked about the temptation to turn stones into bread, and last night, I found that I happened to be at that exact spot in Luke.
I thought, "Hm," and read on.
Immediately, I was struck by all sorts of things I had never noticed before.
The first thing I noticed was the word "if":
"If you are the Son the God..."
Wow, did that ever leap out at me!
Jesus was being asked to do something immediate to prove His identity. Now, does that sound familiar, or what?
How often do I feel the same temptation, the need to prove that I am the daughter of God, by some immediate transformation- usually of myself.
I feel the need to turn something in my life that seems unfinished and worthless- like a stone- into something that seems good and acceptable- like bread.
Furthermore, Jesus was being asked to alleviate His suffering- He was starving, after all.
The temptation was to say, if I am a son or daughter of God, I shouldn't have to suffer! All these things that are hurting my feet should be things that feed my belly.
But what does Jesus say?
First of all, He quotes a Scriptures that begins: "Man..."
I was dumb struck at that. Here Jesus is being asked to prove His identity as a Son of God- as the Holy One of Israel, and what does He do? He emphasizes His humanity.
"It is written: Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."
He is so supremely confident of His identity in His Father that He apparently doesn't even bother to address it.
He throws it away, you might even say. You might say that He empties Himself of all claims to it. Jesus knows His place in His Father can't be revoked, so He doesn't feel the need to grasp at it.
This astonished me. I'd never seen that before, but of course, it makes me think of this passage:
"Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained,
But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being.
And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross!
Therefore [because He stooped so low] God has highly exalted Him and has freely bestowed on Him the name that is above every name,
That in (at) the name of Jesus every knee should (must) bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
And every tongue [frankly and openly] confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
-Philippians 2:6-11, Amplified Bible
Not only did Jesus refuse to prove His identity as the Son of God, but He refused to alleviate His suffering.
Sometimes, suffering is a greater gift than immediate gratification, but this is a truth that's lived by faith, in the Word of God, because we know that our Father gives life to the dead, and calls those things that do not exist as though they did.
I wonder if that's why, when we lie down with a stone for a pillow, we can sometimes see heaven.