Chapter 2: Temptation: It’s All About Power

Chapter 2 explores the reality of temptation and the Devil through the biblical text on the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness.

Few people seem to recognize that when Jesus is tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11), he and the Devil are both trying to occupy scripture.  They fling Deuteronomy and Psalms at each other, struggling over the meaning.  Neither is gaining a lot of ground by just quoting texts.

Then the Devil plays his trump card on temptation; he will give Jesus “all power and authority over the Kingdoms of the world” if Jesus will just bow down and worship him.

The gloves are off.  That’s why occupying sacred texts really comes down to, doesn’t it?  A struggle for power.  Satan as the tempter is the one who knows this, and knows this well.  He will just tempt Jesus to reach out now for all political power (and how much the Devil reveals about the demonic nature of absolute political power in that verse!) and he’ll control Jesus.

Jesus resists.  Being a resister to the temptation of absolute power is absolutely crucial to occupying sacred texts.  Power always wants more, always wants to tempt you to overreach—and that’s how Jesus triumphs over the Devil.  He won’t play.

So much of American life is tied up in the temptation to overreach and abuse power.  The “tempter” relies on our desire for power and control.  It is so important to resist this temptation.

Pepper spraying of peaceful protesting students

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