Sunday, April 3, 2011

Matthew 4: 1-11

I'm back after a long hiatus due to illness. It wasn't enough for me to catch something--I then took care of my mother, and caught her illness too. But all is well now, so I'm back to posting more regularly.

While I generally think of the New Testament as a vast, boring, contradictory wasteland of nonsense, much of which makes me angry, it turns out that I do like a few New Testament passages. Matthew 4, verses 1-11, is one of those. In this passage, Jesus is tested by Satan in the wilderness. Jesus is "led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil" as the New International Version puts it. He fasts for 40 days and nights, so naturally, he's hungry, but when the devil says, "Hey, Jesus, why don't you use your powers to turn these stones into bread?" he replies "Man does not live by bread alone..." Then the devil says, "Hey, you're Jesus, throw yourself off the temple because God will send his angels to save you." Jesus replies, "Nope. We're not supposed to test God." So then Satan says, "I'll give you all this great earthly splendor stuff if you'll deny God and follow me" and Jesus replies, "Heck no, I'm only going to serve God."

Why do I like this passage? For several reasons. It starts with the 40 days and nights of fasting. That always reminded me of American Indian vision quests, and it also alludes to the 40 days and nights that it rained on Noah, and the 40 years that the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness. I also like that Satan tests him 3 times, which is the same number commonly used for tests in fairy tales. In fact, the fairy tale aspects of these verses might be my favorite part.

I also like the language, from stones being made into bread to "Man shall not live by bread alone."

You can read the entire passage here: New International Version or King James Version.

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