Lenten Field Guide // Week 2: Evil’s Toolbox
The story of the devil tempting Jesus in the wilderness as Jesus is fasting and praying is an interesting one. It calls to mind tools that evil uses to tempt us into living into what it hopes for us: disconnection, insatiable greed, selfishness, devisive-ness, and rampant individualism. These tools tempt us to hoard our power and privilege and use those in service to ourselves to get ahead. Just as the devil tempted Jesus to make bread from stones, so too are we tempted to eat of unholy means. But Jesus knew that you become what you consume. He did not want to consume bread made from unholy power. He wanted bread that was made of love; bread that lifted up the lowly and brought down the unjust mighty from their thrones. He wanted the good stuff.
One of the most successful tricks that the devil plays on us is going after our identities. In this story, the devil says to Jesus: “since you are… then do this.” It was tempting for Jesus to display all of his might, but he would have been doing this at the bequest of evil. And… he refused to cooperate with evil. Gandhi taught this based upon Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount: be noncooperative with evil.
Based on the unholy structures that have created a stratified system in society, if you are white, you have more privilege than people of color. If you are in a straight relationship, you have more privilege than one that is gay or lesbian. If you identify as cis-gender, you have more privilege than someone who identifies as trans*gender. If you live far above the poverty line, you have more privilege than people who live below or near it. How will you deal with this privilege and the power it brings? Will you eat bread made from stones of greed, selfishness, and evil, or will you eat bread made from love?
Scripture to consider: Matthew 4:1-11
Then the Spirit led Jesus up into the wilderness so that the devil might tempt him. 2 After Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights, he was starving. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “Since you are God’s Son, command these stones to become bread.”4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread, but by every word spoken by God.” 5 After that the devil brought him into the holy city and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, 6 “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down; for it is written, I will command my angels concerning you, and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”7 Jesus replied, “Again it’s written, Don’t test the Lord your God.”8 Then the devil brought him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 He said, “I’ll give you all these if you bow down and worship me.”10 Jesus responded, “Go away, Satan, because it’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.” 11 The devil left him, and angels came and took care of him.