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Thoughts on religion, politics, life and death. And other banned topics.

How to Resist


Immediately after his baptism with water and with the Spirit of God, that same Spirit leads Jesus into an uninhabited region where he goes without food for 40 days and faces testing from the devil. After 40 days, he was hungry, so the first test he faces springs from his hunger. The devil says, “If you’re the Son of God, prove it. Turn these stones into bread.” But Jesus responds with a truth more profound and basic than his hunger. He responds with what is written in the Law, “Human beings don’t get their life from bread but from every word that God speaks.”

The devil tries a different tack that is really just a variation on the same test. He takes him to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem and says, “If you are the Son of God, prove it. The Bible says, ‘He will put guardian angels around you to protect you from harm. You won’t even stub your toe.’ Jesus again goes to the Law for a more basic truth. “The Bible also says, ‘Don’t put the Lord your God to the test to see if he’ll do what he says.’”

The devil makes one more attempt. Since he couldn’t get to him by questioning his identity, he tries to short cut what he believes must be God’s plan. He offers all the kingdoms of the world if Jesus will just acknowledge Satan as God. Jesus doesn’t dispute the devil’s power to do as he says. Instead he responds that worship and service belong to God alone and not to any created being. So again, Jesus does nothing except quote the Bible.

Later, when Jesus is teaching his disciples to pray, he tells them to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Yet the Spirit led Jesus into temptation, and James tells us to consider times of trial as pure joy because they produce patience. Patience is yielding to the agency of others. In this case, it is yielding to the agency of God. In each case, the temptation was to exert agency and do something, and each case, the resistance was to do nothing but hold on to God’s plan. So “lead us not into temptation,” but if you do, then “deliver us from the evil one.” God’s deliverance comes in the form of a patient resistance that keeps trusting in God to be the one who moves his plan forward.


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