Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Lent - Temptations in the Wilderness - Christ, Satan & a negotiating Angel 12C

The Temptation of Christ by the Devil  first half 12C (possibly 1129–34)
Spanish The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met tells us that the fresco comes from "The hermitage of San Baudelio de Berlanga was constructed in the beginning of the 11C at the heart of the frontier between Islamic & Christian lands.  One hundred fifty years later, its extraordinary palm-vaulted interior was transformed with the addition of two cycles of vibrant paintings: an extensive life-cycle of Christ at the top & scenes of hunting & animals at the bottom, derived from Islamic art. The large figures of the biblical cycle, the clear outlines, & the radiant colors ensured that the story would be legible from the floor. The fresco conflates three episodes from Christ's Temptation. At the left, the Devil dares Christ to turn stones into bread. In the middle, Satan challenges Christ, standing on the gable of the Temple, to throw himself down. The angel talking to a demon at the right refers to the last temptation of Christ, who, after refusing to worship the Devil, is ministered by angels."

“The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert,
& he remained in the desert for forty days,
tempted by Satan.
He was among wild beasts,
& the angels ministered to him.”
Mark 1:12-13

All 3 Gospels relate that Jesus spent a period of 40 days & nights in the desert immediately following His Baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist & the dramatic recognition given by Heaven to this event. The number 40 obviously has resonance with such Old Testament events as the 40 days & nights of the Great Flood (Genesis 7:9), the 40 days & nights that Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God (Exodus 24:18) & the 40 years in which the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness (Numbers 14:32-34).  Mark’s reference to the Temptation of Jesus is the shortest of the three. Matthew (Matthew 4:1-11) & Luke (Luke 4:1-13) both describe in detail the temptations tried by Satan, temptations to power & pride, which Jesus resisted. All three agree that at the end of these 40 days & nights, Jesus was tired & hungry.

"Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
"If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread."
Jesus answered him,
"It is written, One does not live on bread alone."
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
"I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve."
Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
"If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
and:
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone."
Jesus said to him in reply,
"It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test."
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.”
Luke 4:1-13