The people that lived in darkness
has seen a great light;
on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death
a light has dawned.
(Isaiah 9:21; Matthew 4: 16)
I have learned much from my unexpected friends at City Light Community Ministries, their witness that this nondescript building on the corner of Hickory and North 4th is a City of Light, a haven of hope against the despair of the streets–domain of Satan, the tempter, whom the Gospel of John calls the prince of this world, the prince of darkness (John 12: 31-33; John 14: 30) “on the prowl like a roaring lion” (1 Peter 5: 8-10; Psalm 22: 13), “a liar, the father of lies” (John 8: 43-44) offering escape from despair in a bottle, a syringe, a step into traffic, the path of an oncoming locomotive: temptations the book of Jude says are like clouds blown about by the winds, bringing no rain; like barren trees uprooted in the winter, so twice dead; like shooting stars–Lucifer and his fallen angels bound for an eternity of darkness in spiritual chains (Jude, verses 4, 6, 12-14).
The book of Genesis, Chapter One, states that in the beginning, there was darkness over the deep, the void of nothingness. Then God’s spirit, like a dove hovering over her young in the nest, spoke creation into being: “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that it was good. The Gospel of John declares Jesus to be “the light of the world” (John 8: 12), Jesus, the Word of Creation (John 1: 14) made flesh, made human. The book of Hebrews states that in every respect, Jesus has been tempted as we are (Hebrews 4: 15). “In the world,” Jesus said, “you will have trouble but be brave: I have conquered the world” (John 16: 33).
According to the Gospel of Matthew, at the start of his earthly ministry, Jesus sought out baptism in the Jordan River, knowing it was fitting that he “do all that righteousness demands” (Matthew 3: 15), and when John The Baptist raised Jesus from the water, “suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my son, the Beloved; my favor rests on him'” (Matthew 3: 16-17).
“Then [immediately following this high and holy moment] Jesus was led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4: 1-2), so we can be confident that Jesus understands our temptations and will be at our side if we will call on his name, “the name / which is above all other names” (Philippians 2: 9).
In the wilderness, Jesus “fasted for forty days and forty nights, after which he was very hungry, and the tempter came and said to [Jesus], ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to turn into loaves'” (Matthew 4: 1-4).
“[Jesus] replied, ‘Scripture says:
Man does not live on bread alone
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”
(Deuteronomy 8: 3; Matthew 4: 4)
“The devil then took [Jesus] to the holy city [Jerusalem] and made him stand on the parapet of the Temple: ‘If you are the Son of God’ [the tempter] said, ‘throw yourself down; for scripture says:
He will put you in his angels’ charge,
and they will support you on their hands
in case you hurt your foot against a stone.'”
(Psalm 91: 11-12; Matthew 4: 5-6)
“Jesus said to him, ‘Scripture also says:
You must not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
(Deuteronomy 6: 16; Matthew 4: 7)
“Next taking [Jesus] to a very high mountain, the devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘I will give you all these’ he said ‘if you fall at my feet and worship me.’
Then Jesus replied, ‘Be off, Satan! For scripture says:
You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.'”
(Deuteronomy 6: 13; Matthew 4: 8-10)
“Having exhausted all these ways of tempting [Jesus], the devil left him, to return at the appointed time” (Luke 4: 13). After the devil left, “angels appeared and looked after [Jesus].” (Matthew 4: 11)
Throughout his ministry, Jesus was put to the test by Satan, the tempter overthrown by Jesus “bearing our sins in his body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds we have been healed.” (1 Peter 2: 24-25)
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
May we, empowered by God the Father; Jesus, the Son; and the Holy Spirit, choose Light over the temptations of Darkness–addictions that lead to death. We cannot resist Evil on our own, but we are not alone, Jesus always at our side lighting our path through the darkness.
A Thin Silence, July 6, 2022, revised July 23, 2022.
The Biblical passages cited are from The Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1966.