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Second Sunday of the Great Lent | Temptation Sunday

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

temptation_mount

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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