How to Benefit Spiritually in the Holy Pascha Week

Written by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality

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1. Our Behavior Inside and Outside of Church

It is very noticeable that many people during Pascha Week are one thing inside church and completely different outside. In side church, black curtains, somber hymns, solemn readings, and concentrating on the suffering of Christ. Outside of church, we often laugh, joke around, socialize, think and talk about many worldly issues. We lose all the spiritual depth that we gained inside church. Let us concentrate our thoughts, conversations, and meditations around the events of this holy week and the Passion of our Savior.

2. Retreat

During our regular fasting days, we pt the words of the bible before us, “Consecrate a fast, call a sacred assembly.” (Joel 1:14). How much more then should we apply this commandment during Holy Week? This week should be characterized by solitude and retreat with God, by staying away from idle discussions and various means of entertainment of pleasure. Reserve your time to God and to spiritual activities worthy of this week.

In the first hour of the Monday of the Holy Pascha, we read St. Shenouda’s homily, which warns us: “Brethren if we want o escape God’s punishment and find mercy in His eyes, let us sit every evening alone by ourselves and search our souls…”

3. Follow the Steps of Christ

Meditate on the events of the week one by one: from Palm Sunday, when Christ refused His worldly kingdom and the Jews gave up their hope in Him, until they crucified and buried Him. On Palm Sunday, ask yourself, “Is Christ King and Lord over everything in my life? Do I, like Christ, turn down worldly glory for spiritual and eternal glory? During the General Funeral Service, do I consider myself attending my own funeral?”

And when the church denounces Judas’ traitorous kiss on the eve of the Wednesday of Pascha Week, ask yourself in prayer, “How often, O Lord have I betrayed You? How many times have I told You words of love in prayers, while my actions show the opposite and my heart is far away from You?”

4. Share in the Fellowship of His Suffering

Saint Paul said, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering, being conformed to His death.” (Philippians 3:10) Can we give ourselves an exercise this week to share in the fellowship of His suffering and be conformed to His death? Can we follow Him in His suffering and ascend with Him to the Cross? Can we say with St. Paul, “With Christ I have been crucified; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” ? (Galatians 2:20).

Therefore, in order for Christ to live in us, we have to carry our cross and follow Him. If you have a cross in your life, do not complaint about it. Instead, rejoice in it and bear it for Christ’s sake. “for to you has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him but to suffer for His sake.” (Philippians 1:29).

5. Asceticism

Whoever puts the suffering of Christ before him will not take any pleasure in eating and drinking or pampering the body. But in order to succeed in pursuing asceticism, we must satisfy our souls with spiritual food so that it may thrive and overcome physical hunger. It was customary for the Church to fast until at least the 9th hour on normal fasting days and until sunset during the Holy Week of Pascha.

St. Athanasius even declared that this period of Holy Week should be received with “longer prayers, fasts, and vigils so that we may be able to anoint our lintels with precious blood and escape the destroyer.” And again, the blessed saint says, “Let us thus engage in the holy fasts, as having been prescribed by Him, and by means of which we find the way to God.”

6. Spiritual Readings

Spiritual readings are also food for the soul. The church has organized for us a treasure of appropriate readings for every day of the Holy Week, comprised of Gospel readings, Old Testament prophesies that correspond to the events of each day, spiritual explanations and sermons of the Church Fathers. On Bright Saturday (Apocalypse night) the church reads the entire Book of Revelation.

7. Hymns

The hymns of the Pascha Week are moving and full of spiritual depth. Hymns, like reading, preserve the thought from wandering and guide it in spiritual direction. We should continue to recite the hymns while walking, meditating, resting.

8. Prayer

Since the prayers of the Agpeya are not used during Holy Week, we are to substitute personal prayers in their place, in addition to the intensive prayers of the church, asking the Lord who bore the sins of the world and died for us, to forgive and have mercy upon us according to His great mercy.

9. Confession and Communion

During this week, each person must sit with himself and remember his sins and put them on Christ’s shoulders and tell Him in shame, “Carry O Lord my sins too, with the sins of the rest of humanity. Take my sins and nail them to the Cross with You, so that Your Blood may wipe them away!”

Look carefully at your sins and know that they are the cause of His crucifixion. Many people cry out of their sorrow for Christ’s suffering while they crucify Him every day with their sins. We should not feel sorry for Christ during this week, but should be sorry for our sins that caused Him these pains. As Jesus told the women that were crying over Him, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not cry for Me, but cry for yourselves and your children.” (Luke 23:28).

Before the Cross, we all stand as sinners, all under the condemnation. “no one is righteous, not even one.” (Psalm 14:3). We confess our sins and prepare ourselves for communion. There are three liturgies during Holy Week: on Passover Thursday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday (Preceded, of course, by the Liturgy of Palm Sunday).

10. Spiritual Storage

Pascha Week is not an opportunity to benefit for a week only, but a time to store up spiritual nourishment enough to last the whole year, particularly needed during the 50 days after the Resurrection when there is no fasting.

Sixth Sunday of Great Lent | The Man Bord Blind

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality, Sunday Contemplations

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Who was at fault, him or his parents, for him to be born blind?

This is how the disciples asked the Lord Jesus. It is the nature of man to judge others and to reason all matters, though man is almost always wrong in his judgement… For who can get closer or predict God’s judgements, examination and means to conclude things… Our thoughts are so far from God’s thoughts, as heaven is from earth.

To reveal the Glory of God in him

This is how the Lord answered the inquiry of His disciples. God is capable of being glorified in those who are weak, in disasters, in those born deformed and in the incurable illnesses. God might have reasons beyond us in these matters… If we looked through the eyes of our Lord Jesus, we would have found that everything around us, no matter how difficult, they will lead to the glory of God…. When the Lord heard about the illness of Lazarus, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.” (John 11:4). We hope that all matters would guide us to reach for the glory of God in our lives, and observe how God is glorified at the conclusions of all matters.

As long as I am in the world, then I am the light of the world

Jesus declares Himself for us… He came to declare to us Himself and for us to have unity with God. For the Lord revealed to us Jesus through His miracles, giving us the awareness and enjoyment of out rights. So Jesus in this miracle, He presents Himself to us, not as a cure for new eyes for a blind person, but presents Himself, even before doing the miracle… He is the light of the world… The blind, not by nature, but by the spirit, are those who sitting in darkness and the shadows of death. To know Jesus is to know the true Light, which lights for every person coming into the world. Whoever follows Jesus, will never walk in darkness, but with the light of Jesus, only then he will enjoy the Light… God who said let there be light from darkness, He is the one who lit into our hearts, to illuminate the knowledge of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.

After the Lord has pasted the eyes of the born blind with mud, He told him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.” (John 9:7). Here we are before a new creation, and the end of an old birth, according to the earthly body, the end of blindness, the wash with the spiritual water, and light that is rising for the first time. All of these matters indicate to us the idea of our experiences with baptism in our lives. One of the settings and teachings of the church is reading this same chapter of the Bible, when new souls are accepting the blessing of baptism, and acknowledging the secrets of God’s kingdom.

The baptism is seeing the Light

“And we know that the Son of God has come and have given us understanding, that we may know Him who is true.” (1 John 5:20). This is how the beloved St. John teaches us in his first letter. He makes the connection between the birth from God, the light and the love of the brethren. This is the eternal life, in which the church lives as a whole, and was also as recorded by the early fathers, who dwelt in the light.

The new sight, which God offered us with the new creation, is being cleansed in the holy water of baptism. We could say that we don’t look to the temporary things, but to the eternal ones.
The spiritual sight could accept the work of God in secret without argument or debate. For it would be as if the scales have fallen from our eyes as with Saul, and the darkness departed from it. The darkness of ignorance, without faith, when Ananias placed his hands on Saul. God sent Ananias for this, for immediately his sight was restored, Saul got up and was baptized.

The spiritual sight can see the illuminant angelic army, fighting on our behalf, while the world’s forces of evil surround us. We become full of confidence, and shout out saying, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” (2 Kings 6:16). As Elisha the prophet said to his disciple, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” (2 Kings 6:17).

The spiritual sight sees with faith in fulfilling God’s commandments, His obedience and love, until the offering of the only begotten Son, like our great father Abraham. It sees beyond the natural senses and crosses all barriers. It can even see God’s ability to raise the dead.
It becomes stronger in faith, to the extent of seeing God. Even Abraham called that place “The-Lord-Will-Provide.” (Gen. 22:14). That is Abraham saw the Lord, he examined His cross, His sacrifice and his resurrection through the sacrifice of love, when he presented Isaac on the altar.

The spiritual sight that we received in baptism; through it we can clearly see the Lord … So we can say with good faith to others about the Lord Jesus, that we saw Him and observed Him with our own eyes. Then we can understand what was written to the Galatians, “Before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified.” (Gal. 3:1).

If we ignore the spiritual sight which we received in baptism then we will fall in the world with its desires, and defile, then this will make our sight weaker, and fatigue will cover our eyes. Therefore we could not be sure of seeing God any more. As the Lord told to the angel of the church of Laodiceans, “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ – and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked -.” (Rev. 3:17). Here is the weakness of sight, so one couldn’t identify himself and the truth of his condition. And the Lord said, “Anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.” (Rev. 3:18). This is the repentance through scolding and divine correctives, the tears of regret and the return to God. The tears of repentance are our repetitive baptism, through which we regain our sight to know God, to know ourselves as well as our activities.

“After you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings: partly while you were made a spectacle both by reproaches and tribulations.” (Heb. 10:32, 33). Paul the apostle told this to the Hebrews. Because after they accepted the faith and entered into the inheritance of the saints in the Light, they were enlightened in the Holy Spirit, and were subjected to reproaches and tribulations. This is clear when we observe the story of the born blind. For after the Lord opened his eyes, the Pharisees as well as the Jewish leaders subjected him to harsh resistance, and prosecution. Wasn’t that the state of the people in the past, after they went through the sea of baptism, they had to fight Amalek. Therefore, Satan watches our movements as an enemy, since the first instant the Lord opened our eyes through baptism, or by cleansing through tears of repentance… From this instance, Satan stood stirring up storms around us, and stirring up the people against us as if we are strangers in the community.

Do you believe in the Son of God? Lord, I believe! And he worshiped Him

It was not difficult for the human to utter the faith, like Peter, when the Lord opened his sight and he said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matt.16:16). For Jesus, through His word purifies the heart and cleanse the interior. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3). The purity of the heart enables us to see God, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matt. 5:8).

Fifth Sunday of Great Lent | The Sick of Bethesda

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Sunday Contemplations

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Jesus went to Jerusalem during the feast. In Jerusalem there was a pool by the Sheep Gate, which is called Bethesda. Around the pool lay great multitudes who were sick, blind, and lame paralyzed waiting for the water to be stirred. For an angel came down and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Among the multitude of the sick laid this paralyzed man, who had an infirmity for thirty-eight years… When Jesus saw him, and knew that he had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6). The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” (John 5:7). Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” (John 5:8). And immediately the man was made well, took his bed, and walked. But it was the Sabbath… Afterwards Jesus found him and told him, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” (John 5:14).

We wish to recognize that when Jesus looks at us… It is not an ordinary look from an ordinary individual, but as it is written, ‘Man looks at the eyes, but the Lord looks at the heart.’
Jesus’ look is full of all the affection which God has towards us. Every time, it renews within us the power of a new life. When I search for salvation, He looks at me with acceptance and encouragement to start the salvation work, as He looked at Zaccheus. When I am with tears of repentance, holding to the feet of Jesus, as He observed the sinful woman, and He told Simon, “Do you see this woman?” (Luke 7:44). But when the soul is sunk in sins, seeking salvation and peace, then Jesus looks at it and weeps for it, as He looked at Jerusalem and wept at it. When I am inclosed in the tomb of my desires with my foul smell and defile, the loved ones approach Jesus, on my behalf, and request, “Come and see.” (John 11:34). Then His eyes, full of tears and raised to heave, lifts me with great power like Lazarus. When I fall denying the love of Jesus, almost losing faith, then His looks toward me are like those when He looked towards Peter, during that evening of torment, He expels my soul out of the circle of despair. His look full of pity fills me with hope. This is how in all my tribulations, I find Jesus looking towards me, and every time His looks contain new salvation.

He saw him laying

What kind of look did Jesus direct towards that sick person, laying in his bed for 38 years. Later Jesus made it clear that the reason behind this illness was sin, “Sin no more.” (John 5:14). For sure, Jesus looked at him as the good Samaritan, who saw the man who was stripped naked by the thieves of sin, and left him between life and death. So when He saw him, He had pity on him. This was the same look when He saw the widow of Nain?. Those are our appearance when we are laying in the bed of sickness and are paralyses from doing the spiritual work for salvation. We are not even able to walk in the path of virtue. We can’t lift our hands for prayer, nor kneel to worship. We seldom direct our eyes up or are able to move towards God… Here the spiritual paralysis kindles the compassion of our Lord Jesus towards us. Therefore, He directs to us a pitiful look, approaching us and saying, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6). For the Lord Jesus doesn’t question us about our condition in sin, or brings up inquires about the cause of the illness. But He directly asks about wanting to be made well, and this might be an anomalous question. Why does He question in this way? But Jesus wants to place us before the great truth with respect to our salvation, which is our desire.

He came for our salvation, and He fulfilled it through the cross and His resurrection. But we can not enjoy any of this without our own desire. For the human desire is the prime and a responsible entity. For Jesus doesn’t force or pressure the human desire. But on the contrary, He came to test the human desire, which was subdued by Satan. The human desire, by being alone and distant from God, doesn’t move anything or utters a thing. For the sick desired to be made well. But is his desire capable of curing him? The true cure is for his desire to accept the blessing of the work of Jesus and the power of His salvation. Therefore, his desire is strengthened by Jesus, and from there, the will of Jesus will be within us, which is our desire and our rejoice… This is the will of Jesus and His desire to be the entities we need. It is the enjoyment of the cure of our souls, the salvation of our spirit as well as our bodies. Isn’t that what we ask for in our hourly prayers… So be it Your will. I have no one to…

  •  A man appeared to Paul the Apostle in a vision, saying to him: “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” (Acts 16:9). A lot of souls around us screaming these calls, asking for help and for a word of salvation. A lot of souls have bloomed for harvest, but there is no one to stretch out his hands and do the work.
  •  And here is the sick from Bethesda, screaming today and complaining from the selfishness of man, everyone going his way… Everyone serving himself. Even the spiritual workers, labor for his own salvation, he wants to go down to the pool before others… He doesn’t care about the sinners. No one thinking about those around us, sick in sin… Multitudes standing before the Lord complaining about us, no one is helping them. We were satisfied with our repentance and we forgot our brethren around us.
  •  The blessing is in the baptism, the where the Spirit flutters over the water. It is also the repentance, the tears to cure and the return to living with God… And a lot don’t have a man to throw them in the pool. A lot of times we delay God’s work in our souls because of our selfishness and not caring for others.
  •  Also the time when the others are denied though the Spirit says, “I have no man.” (John 5:8). You find the Lord Jesus standing carrying our illness, and our pains… He is closer than the friend and is nearer than a brother. He is the helper for those in distress… And He is close to those calling on Him. He is standing at the door knocking, during our desperate moment at the fourth watch of the night, after 38 years. He is the hope of the hopeless.

Fourth Sunday of Great Lent | The Samaritan Woman

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Sunday Contemplations

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But He needed to go through Samaria

His meeting with the Samaritan woman, at the Sychar well, was within the Lord’s mission. It was a laborious journey that took 6 hours to walk and with extreme endurance of the elements, until the sixth hour of the day (12 noon). The Lord endured all of that just for the joy of gaining the subject placed before Him, for the sake of wining the soul of the Samaritan woman.

Therefore, our meeting with Jesus is not accomplished with friendship, or conditional… For Jesus doesn’t abide to conditions, or changes. The meeting is a premeditated and divinely arranged. Our Lord Jesus places this obligation “MUST” for our salvation. As He told Zacchaeus, “For today I must stay at your house.” (Luke 19:5). Jesus came for our salvation. Therefore He must go by us, and nothing in this world should prevent us from meeting with Jesus. Therefore, every time we enter the church we do it to meet Jesus, every time we stand when the Bible is read, and every time we hear His voice, when God deals with us, we confident that these meetings with God were prearranged for us, and they were fulfilled according to Him.

And it was the sixth hour

This is the same time, the Lord was nailed to the cross for the life of the world… There (on the cross) He also met the thief… This is the same time when Phillip met the Ethiopian eunuch. It was the same time when God met Abraham in the past. God meets us at high noon, when we are tested by heat… Here Jesus meets us, and offers us the spring of life, He is willing to give it, if we ask for. But conditionally, we have to acknowledge our sin, the abandonment of the old sack, and the change of all the ways of our life.

The dialog with Jesus

It is not strange to observe that the Lord Jesus is the initiator of the dialog with Samaritan woman, as this is the nature of God in all ages. He is the source of every blessing, the fountain of life giving and the finite gift. We love Him, because He first loved us… He first initiated with His incarnation to lift us towards Him. He first talked to those He called upon to be with Him… The Lord Jesus starts His dialog as if He needs us, “Give Me to drink.” (John 4:7). If we answer His call, then He will give us living water… The Bible didn’t mention that the woman gave Him water to drink, for Jesus doesn’t thirst for water. He thirsts for our souls and for our salvation… For when His disciples returned, and they told Him, “Master eat. He said to them. I have food to eat of which you do not know.” (John 4:31, 32). Therefore He was not thirsty for water, but thirsty for something else, as He said on the cross, “I thirst.” (John 19:28). But when they lifted the hyssop to Him, He didn’t want to drink. He thirsts for the soul of the thief, and He thirsts to fill us… Whoever interacts with Him will quench His thirst and simultaneously takes from His ‘living water’.

The gift of God

The Lord told the Samarian woman, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you…” (John 4:10). The soul in its journey with God is not aware of the gift of God… And, the One who is talking to it… Jesus dawns on the soul to know the extent of the gift, then it says: Master, give me. But first, the soul goes into an earthly comparison and similarities of the gift, “Where then do You get that living water?” (John 4:11). But Jesus lifts our souls to the level of spiritual worship and truth, after He frees the soul from the limits of the letter and old believes.

A dialog about worship

It is strange that the Samaritan woman talks about worship and prostrate, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” (John 4:20). O, what an evasion and mistake in her sinful life, is she attempting to discuss the faith, the worship and the approach to God. Isn’t that the attitude of many individuals to have, ‘numerous questions, information, inquiries, worship details, discussions, limitations, in their lives’. A lot of souls live with many sins bound to the world, with five husbands, and a life so distant from God. But if the occasion brings them, among spiritual individuals or in a religious setting, they quickly ask a lot of questions, inquires and explanations concerning a discussion about worship and belief in which they are stead fast. But there is a large partition between the talk and living with God. They discuss everything as if they are religious. But they are as it was said, “These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” (Matt.15:8). “Brood of vipers! How can you, being so evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matt.12:34).

The worship with the spirit

Let us notice, that Jesus doesn’t contradict the Samaritan woman during their long discussion and with evasion of words. He directly transfers her to the spiritual worship, not by word or falsehood but in truth. For as long as our lives are stained with sin, then our worship is worthless. It is true what the Lord said, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer you gift.” (Matt. 5:23, 24). Those worshipers are the ones the Father is asking for. The Father doesn’t rejoice with us because we of what we know or discuss. But He rejoices with the spiritual fruit within us, and the worship of God in the Holy Spirit. There is a large gap between the spirit of Jesus and the spirit of hollow dialog, slander and stupid discussions….

The Christ

The woman said, “I know that Messiah is coming (who is called Christ). When He comes He will tell us all things.” (John 4:25). Then Jesus told her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:26). Here we discover something about the woman. Deep within her, she was searching for the Christ, for she knows that He is coming. She is in a state of waiting and internal observation for the salvation of Israel. O what a marvel, that the depth of the Samaritan woman’s heart was quite different from her exterior appearance. She was observed as a sinful woman drowned in evil. But from within she was waiting for the Christ, the Savior. You can compare her to a very precious stone thrown in the mud of the earth, and mixed with the defile of desire. If handled by a jeweler, he cleanses it, removes the dirt and exposes its precious value. We wish not to question a lot of souls, and judge them according to the neglect that stuck to them, and the dirt that covered their beauty. They brought these souls to Christ to a simple meeting at the well at high noon. Observe when Christ brings forth a preacher in His name, as He brought forth Matthew the apostle from the tax office, Matt.(9:9), and Paul the Apostle on the way to Damascus, Acts (9:3).

The Lord Jesus calls on us to work

Look, even with just a spiritual view, at the souls around you. You will see them as white fields ready for harvest without labor…. Others labor, and we entered accordingly without labor. There are souls that only require a simple word to be gathered in the Father’s bosom. Ripe souls are just waiting, for our hands to do the spiritual work, not to miss the chance to harvest. O, brethren let us do the work of the Lord in His fields, to gather and harvest for the church. Let us collect the fruits of eternal life, to rejoice with those who planted the seed of the Word, in the old and New Testament, and to receive the wages of harvest from the Lord’s hands.

Second Sunday of the Great Lent | Temptation Sunday

Written by Fr. Louka Sidarous on . Posted in Fasts and Holy Pascha, Spirituality

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Shades and Signs

It is knowledge that what occurred in the past was a sign and an example for those things to be completed by Jesus on our behalf… For we read about God’s people, in Old Testament, concerning their exodus from the land of Egypt. They crossed the Red Sea which was a symbol of baptism, “All were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:2). After their baptism, they went out in the wilderness of Sinai for forty years, full of temptations. It was said that their corpses fell in the hamlets and that they were defiant and murmured against God, and they said, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Ex. 17:7). In short Sinai was a wilderness in which the devil won, for he had the people fall in defiance and sin.

But in the New Testament, the scene is totally different. Our blessed Jesus took His people to church, which is His body… He dwelt with It in the sea of baptism and sanctified It with the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven… Then He took us into the wilderness of temptation, for forty days and forty nights. Everything that Israel fell short of in the Old Testament, the Lord completed for us. And in every single one of their falls, the Lord changed it into victory. Briefly, the Jordanian wilderness was the battles in which the devil was defeated and his power was crushed, and he became oppressed and cast out, after he oppressed our lives and broke our will in all of our previous generation.

Tempting and crucifying the Lord

The period between leaving the wilderness and going to Golgotha lays a secret and an amazing bond, for the Lord lived both for us. Both were willful paths and accords to a preconceived and deliberate divine. The wilderness, with respect to the Golgotha was the example of the entrance to the main objective of the cross, through which the Lord carried all the sins of the world… Gathered was the principal of all the sacrifices, the Lamb of God. So it was said that who never knew a sin, He carried that sin on our behalf… It was also said that God placed on Him all our sins… He also carried a lot of sins and interceded for the sinful… Though the Lord carried our sins, He was not tarnished by any, for He did not commit an unjust, and there is no deceived in Him. His submission to the agony of our sins, willingly on the cross, does not at all mean that He was subdued by sin, or He deserves verdict, God forbid. With that scale the Lord took us into the wilderness of lent and the temptations of Satan. So as all the temptations, which the enemy of good has gathered against our entity, they were piled up and concentrated, so that the Lord could deliver us from all and defile the defiant, as He trampled all our sins on the cross. The Bible mentioned, in details, three temptations. But the Bible concluded the temptations saying, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13). This means that Satan tried all his tricks, used all his weapons with which he made our nature fall in sin. But this was to fulfill what was said about the Lord, “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” (1 Pet. 2:22). So as he trampled death, by dying on the cross, He obliterated temptations through the temptations by Satan in the wilderness.

Away with you Satan

Where are these words found in the human nature?… Who would give us the power to stand against the devil, who is our enemy? Who could rebuke Satan’s movements, which is embedded within us? Who was able to stand before the law that works in our limbs and captured us into the law of sin? The sad truth is that, not a single human being on the face of the earth was able to confront it, not even God’s greatest saints, were able to rebuke the devil and cast him out during their temptations. This enemy who complains about our nature, who has left too many injured and all his victims were strong… He was from the beginning a people killer. But with the power of the Lord’s word, he was defeated. O how sweet is the victory which we have scored against the devil, as Jesus fasted during the temptations. It is true what Paul the apostle said, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor. 8:9). Therefore in Jesus, we can say everyday, “Away with you Satan.” (Matt. 4:10). So every time the tempter approaches us to tempt us, whether with bodily desires, like the having bread, the temptation of the defile glory of the world, the temptation of arrogance, or the doubt in God’s son-ship, “If You are the Son of God.” (Matt. 4:3). It is our duty that in all these temptations we rebuke the devil, to cast him out, through the words of Jesus, which lives within us, “Away with you Satan.” (Matt. 4:10).
Now we understand the meaning of the verse, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). Also “the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he devours.” (1Pet. 5:8). The Lord declared the defeat of the devil by saying, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” (Luke 10:18). Satan departed from Him until an opportune time. When the devil completed all his temptations, he departed from Him until an opportune time… The enemy is broken and all his arrows are scattered before the power of our blessed Jesus, the devil left the battlefield fleeing….But until an opportune time. For the devil, when he battles with us, he doesn’t know despair. The devil came back once more to the Lord saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” (Matt. 16:22). So the Lord caste him out saying, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:23). Then the devil came back once more when Jesus was nailed to the cross and told Him, through the thief on the left, “If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” (Matt. 27:40). We also believe that our wars are against sin, against desires, against the world, the devil and the flesh… They do not end. And if the devil leaves us, it will be but until an opportune time… That is why it is not right what we hear about those who trust in themselves that they are saved and that they are pure… We have to pay more attention to what is written, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forwards to those things which are ahead.” (Phil. 3:12, 13). We should always be prepared to confront the enemy, by watching and prayer and to unite in Jesus to avoid entering into temptation or trap…

If You are the Son of God

Finally He grasps our attention to the evil enemy as he aims his arrows, to build within us doubts concerning our relationship with the Father. When he was tempting Jesus, he was telling Him, “If You are the Son of God.” (Matt. 27:40). Isn’t that what is happening in our lives, and during our temptations with the enemy, he is always sowing the seeds of doubts in our thoughts.

Since we are the sons of God, then why are we prosecuted? Why are we afflicted with uncomforting and pains? Where is the care of God for us? Where is His true Fatherly love towards us? If God was our Father who loved us, why does He leave us to the pains and temptations of evil people?

But the Son-ship of Jesus to the Father shattered all doubts of the enemy and broke all his arrows. Now we are the sons of God in Jesus, we have trust in His times and in His Fatherhood, as John the apostle said, “We have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him…” (1 John 3:21, 22)

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