THE TEMPTATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST – by Fr Benjamin Mba, HFFBY
Temptation for me is not an evil in itself. Why? Because, virtually, every Temptation has a positive side of it. At the end of every Temptation there is/are lesson(s) drawn from it which invariably educates, instructs, shapes and reshapes human life. Experience is the best teacher in life and has it’s drilling indelible impact in man most especially when it came by the means of temptation.
However, for every Christian, Temptation is inevitable. It is a means by which we, the faithfuls prove the authenticities of our faith in Christ Jesus. This is because the genuineness of our faith cannot be ascertained when all is well with us. The core of our faith is practically evidenced where we stand at the turbulent periods of our lives. Some people only remember God when they are treading on a cool soft paths, when things are smooth for them. But when tough time comes, God is thrown overboard, Christianity and her doctrines become forgotten alternatives, the faith we professed becomes a history.
Not withstanding, trials and challenges of life advertently not only bring the best out of us but also the worst out of us. Trials and temptations also bring to fore our individual strengths and weaknesses as well. But all these are to sensitize us, to equip us, to alert us, to prepare us and make us ready to make further advancement on our journey to eternal home.
The temptation of Jesus greatly equipped him and set him forth for his arduous task and mission of our redemption. Then, the Church in her wisdom intentionally put the temptation of Jesus on the first Sunday of Lent to encourage us, to enhance us as we make our forty days journey with Jesus both in the desert and to the calvary for our own purification, sanctification and salvation. But notice these:JESUS PRAYED AND FASTED
Before Jesus began to execute his mission on earth he fervently prayed, he socked himself in prayer, he inundated himself with prayers, he buffeted himself with fasting and prayer, he subjugated and conquered his flesh with fasting and prayer; and then empowered his spirit. He did this by first of all withdrawing from the crowd, retreating himself from his routine life, from his daily activities. He entered the desert where he will be recollected alone to experience the presence of His Father. He was alone with the Alone for forty days and night.
Our age is imbued with noise. People of our time are afraid of silence. Our individual life/self is heated up with loud sounds and our environment is heavily polluted with noise such that we have unconsciously adjusted and adapted to it ;and we have taken it as part of life, the normal way of living such that where there is silence and tranquility people tend to manufacture, generate noise to fill up the seemingly vacuum of silence. Otherwise, when did you take a leave from your routine life and spent just 10minutes in silence? When did you listen to yourself last? When were you conscious of your heart beats last? When did you have retreat last, personal and group retreats ? When did you do examination of conscience last? When last did you spend time at the end of the days activities to make inventories of the day or even to recollect and refresh in you the days activities or undertakings? When last did you stayed just alone without TV programs on or without Radio, or without Phone, or without computer, or without reading or writing books, or without being in the company of friends and/or colleagues? Very difficult to recollect. But how can we pray well without internal and external silence? How can we make head-way in our spiritual life without retreat, recollection, examination of conscience, spiritual resolutions without silence? There are many challenges in life, there are many trials and temptations on our ways, How can we combat them without being properly equipped with the power of prayers? How can we be closer to God daily without being a man/woman of prayers? Is it possible to trace our way to heaven, is it possible to know our destiny and destination in life without prayer? Simply No! Prayer is our power, prayers is our light? Prayer is our life. We need to pray, we need to fast, we need to see Jesus and be with him in this and the next life all the time, every hour, every day, and every moment.
Yes, we need to fast. We need to atone and make reparations for our sins. See, Jesus had no sin yet he fasted. Jesus had no guilt to atone for or make reparations for but he fasted. He fasted just for our sake, for our good. How much more we who have been truncated by our sins. How much more we who were born, brought up and live in sin daily. Abstinence not only win grace of atonement for us but also makes us to be in charge of ourselves. It makes us to check mate our sensitive appetites and bring them to control. It teaches us how to say No when necessary. In fact it helps to regulate us from the excesses of life and the cravings for pleasures, pride and power. Thus with prayer and fasting, victory is ours like our master Jesus Christ.JESUS WAS TEMPTED BY THE DEVIL
The temptation of Jesus by the devil was a great insult to the incarnate word, the son of God. But Jesus allowed and accepted it just for our sake, for our good. But that Jesus was tempted by the devil is a clear evidence that Jesus our redeemer suffered in his human nature, although he was and he is God. Then, if Jesus who is God could be tempted by the devil how much more we ordinary and weak human beings. All-the-same, the temptation of Jesus by the devil just like the temptations we experience daily were not “a command” but “suggestions”. Devil cannot command or mandate us to do evil or to go against our wish or faith. It can only suggest to us, convince us and leaves us to make choices or decisions by ourselves. Devil is a spirit, it is powerful, it is cunning. It knows when best to come to tempt us. It knows our weakest point, where to attach us. Devil never tempted ADAM, nor did it temped EVE when Adam was around, why? because it knows that Adam was strong and sensible. It only came and had it’s way on Eve only when Adam was away. So also Devi came to tempt Jesus when Jesus was weak from his long fasting and prayer. And it uses means and instruments that are very dear and needful to us. It knows how hungry Jesus was when it told Jesus to misuse his divine power in mere satisfaction of the flesh, by turning stone into bread. And other two temptations in like manner.
We human beings need and crave for bodily comforts, seeking pleasure and avoiding pains. We crave for personal aggrandizements, all the self-glory that men and the world could give. We yearn and go for all the possessions and powers this world can offer us. Thus, greed, pride, selfishness, arrogance, avarice, jealousy, envy etc became our contemporary basic temptations.
Devil in his cleverness and tricks never won Jesus; not even in its use of the scriptures could it trick Jesus. Are you wise enough to recognize when you are been tempted by the devil? How clever are you to contest with the tricks of the devil? Our fault is that even when it is so obvious to us that we are been tempted by the devil we still give in to it. We still fall pray to his tricks. The greatest temptations we encounter now are through our faith, through the church and even through the ministers and self acclaimed ministers of the church. Many are deceiving us with the use of the scriptures just as the devil quoted the Bible for Jesus. How much have you been charged by the so called church ministers to pray for you even when you knew that Jesus our master never charged money for prayers? “you received without charge give without charge”. How much have you spent on the church ministers to buy miracles from him even when it was obvious to you that we don’t sell, perform or buy miracles but willful actions or signs of God which he does at his own time and in his own way? How many times have you been lured into idolatry/religious prostitution, blasphemy, apostasy and all sorts of evils and sins even by the religious /church ministers? No wonder Shakespeare said that the devil quotes Bible for its own purpose. All these deceptions in the name of God and the church are for the personal purposes and interest of the ministers. Even when we know it we will still fall to it. Faithlessness! Baseless faith! Faith without foundation talk more of strong foundation! But until when you use your baptismal power and the sacramental graces you have to command the devil like Jesus “Be off Satan ” “Get out from here Satan” “Away from here Satan” it will continue to hover around you and to tempt you. But remember, when you fail to succumb to its tricks, when you are strong in prayers and fasting, when you have your Jesus and Mary around you by being in the state of grace always, devil will flee from you. Whenever it sees your shadow it will take to its heels. The Angel of God will then come to take charge of you to minister to you and your needs.
May the good Lord give us the grace to pray, fast in other to make necessary self-restraint so as to be strong and powerful, enough to win the devil and it’s tricky life on us always, through Christ our Lord.
H A P P Y S U N D A Y
peace be with you ??