Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Food, Faith and Fortune

In Matthew’s Gospel (4:1-11) there is a wonderfully insightful story about the temptation of Jesus. It should be acknowledged that each of the temptation are things Jesus wants. It makes sense really, for one can hardly be tempted with undesirable things.

First, Jesus is offered food, to turn stones into bread. Such a temptation would not only satisfy the hunger of someone who’s fasted for forty days, but would satisfy the hunger of anyone, and everyone, who’s hungry. Jesus wants us to have our “daily bread,” the very stuff that sustains our bodies. However, he wants these things on his own terms, and not be made to worship anyone but the one, true God.

Secondly, Jesus is offered faith, to be placed at the very top of the temple and have all creatures worship him. Such a temptation would, or so the promise goes, put Jesus at the centre of all worship. Jesus wants us to worship God “in spirit and truth.” (John 4.24) However, he wants this on his own terms.

Lastly, Jesus is offered fortune, all the kingdoms of the world. Jesus, no doubt, desires that our political life also be directed by his teachings and rule. Jesus wants, “thy will be done, on earth as in heaven.” However, the terms offered to him are too much to bear.

So, what are the terms Jesus wants? Well, God simply wants genuine friends, and that is the only reason for there to be a creation at all. Friendship that is forced or without alternative is hardly genuine. We must enter that friendship with God of our own free will, without trickery or threat. The boldface lie in Matthew’s Gospel is that food, faith and fortune are the devils to give. They are not. Generosity with the bounty of the earth’s resources are ours to give. The worship (and friendship) of God in spirit and truth are ours to give. The fortune of our collective wealth and power are ours to give. All of this, our food, faith and fortune are what Jesus wants, but not for his own glory, but for the glory of God, our creator and the One who first loved us.

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