Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

The Pope’s Jesus 3

Chp 3 in Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth, concerns the temptations of Jesus — and this chp reveals his theological and canonical method.
“Jesus has to enter into the drama of human existence, for that belongs to the core of his mission; he has to penetrate it completely, down to its uttermost depths, in order to find the ‘lost sheep,’ to bear it on his shoulders, and to bring it home” (26). And it is an “anticipation that condenses into a single expression the struggle he endured at every step of his mission” (27).
Each temptation anticipates the cross. The primacy of God is central to the temptations of Jesus and what the devil offers Jesus diminishes that primacy of God — even the bread of social justice can diminish the primacy of God. “Only when power submits to the measure and the judgment of heaven — of God, in other words — can it become power for good. And only when power stands under God’s blessing can it be trusted” (39).
He finds an apt analogy in Barabbas and Jesus on trial — “two messiah figures, two forms of messianic belief stand in opposition” (40). The Cross stands as an alternative power.
The temptations are about this: “God is God, that God is man’s true Good” (45).

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Ted Gossard

posted May 30, 2007 at 4:24 am

This is rich. I like his words on power. We Christians buy into a power too often that seems contradictory of this, I think.
Do I live this out in my own life daily? And do I seek to do so in a community of like-minded people, or with the goal towards that? Why shoot down what’s happening in the world if I’m not seeking to live out the alternative cross-formed life in Jesus myself? I need to think on this post today, and particularly on Jesus being tempted in the wilderness. Thanks, Scot.

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posted May 30, 2007 at 6:50 am

I agree with you that this is a powerful statement on the Temptations and that we need to look at our own lives.
I like the idea that social justice–giving people bread — can become more important than God as a reading ofthe turn the stones into bread Temptation. I had always interpreted that as the temptation to personal survival –colluding with the Nazis, so to speak, so the you and your kin might live. I love that Benedict takes it out to a larger social dimension but at the same time, presumably, without any desire to turn his back on social justice.
“The cross stands as an alternative power”: to which I say a heartfelt yes. I think of George Fox and his statements against carnal power .He says that the cross is not to be marched into the middle of battles fought with carnal weapons. (Didn’t Paul speak to that in the armor of God passage?) Not using guns (or (ill-gotten??) money?) seems like rendering the cross completely weak and helpless — and yet we are told it is at that point it becomes strong. And I struggle with this. If true, how do we witness to –and stop –the genocide in Darfur? Can Darfur be a temptation?

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posted May 30, 2007 at 6:53 am

It’s a needed reminder that Christ’s victory over temptation is not alone the most important element but in conjunction with his total dependence on the Father, which provided the victory.

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John W Frye

posted May 30, 2007 at 9:04 am

Ted and Diane,
I agree that we’ve so convoluted the concept of “power” in the West and in our Christianity that understanding it in light of the Cross seems like foolishness and outright powerlessness to us. Didn’t Paul hint that that may be the case (1 Cor. 1-2)?

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Lori K. Barbeau

posted May 31, 2007 at 6:24 am

“…only when power stands under God’s blessing can it be trusted.”
This is very interesting. To me, it means that the advancement of the kingdom of God in our time occurs through us when we do God’s will and then give HIM credit for the power that’s involved.
Psalm 66 verses 3 and 4: Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.”
Although I am part of the ‘all the earth bows down to you’, there are times when I want to make myself the headliner in sparkly Vegas lights! That is where Jesus’ power of overcoming temptation can act in me. I just have to REMEMBER that truth when the moment of temptation is upon me.

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posted May 31, 2007 at 9:22 pm

A wonderfully written passage. The emphasis of temptation is right on with his constant reminder: ‘God is the issue’ (pg. 29). For an emergent movement which seeks to bring out the force of ‘everything is spiritual,’ this chapter adds some punch to the message. The notion that yielding to temptation (argh. . .now that hymn is stuck in my head) places God as secondary regardless of the specific context comes straight out of such a perspective. This, by the way, is what allows the flow of this argument to return to the assertion, ‘The answer is very simple: God’ (pg. 44).

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