Confessions of a Questioning Christian

Posts Tagged ‘devil

Matthew 4

Posted on: February 2, 2012

My first question is, who is the spirit that lead Jesus into the wilderness? The Holy Spirit? God? Or some other spirit? I’m guessing the Holy Spirit.. but I can’t figure that out.

Saying that you spent “40 days and 40 nights” doing something used to simply mean “a great amount of time,” but not necessarily anywhere close to 40 actual days and nights. Fasting also didn’t mean total abstience from food and water – Jesus could have been surviving on the bare rations he could find in the wilderness (pulling a John the Baptist on us, huh?).  Also,

Fasting traditionally presaged a great spiritual struggle.[19]Elijah and Moses in the Old Testament fasted 40 days and nights, and so Jesus doing the same invites comparison to these events. (wikipedia)

We are introduced to the devil for the first time in the New Testament. Again, this part is confusing to me. I grew up learning all about the devil – that is, all about the Devil. The devil was an evil spirit – the most evil. He tempted us with any number of pleasurable and bad things to draw us away from God. When we hit our siblings or lied to our parents or were mean to classmates, we were giving into the temptations  of this spirit.

What I don’t understand, is – AGAIN – we have a whole bunch of Jews, who are Jewish in faith, talking about this entity that Jews don’t even believe in.

Judaism

In mainstream Judaism there is no concept of a devil like in mainstream Christianity or Islam. Texts make no direct link between the serpent that tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden from Genesis and references to a Satan in the first book of Chronicles[6] and in Job[7]. In Hebrew, the biblical word ha-satan (השָׂטָן) means “the adversary”[8] or the obstacle, or even “the prosecutor” (recognizing that God is viewed as the ultimate Judge). As much as the Devil exists in any form of Judaism, his role is as an adversary and an accuser which is assigned rather than assumed. (wikipedia)

and, some Christians believe:

In other, non-mainstream, Christian beliefs (e.g. the beliefs of the Christadelphians) the word “satan” in the Bible is not regarded as referring to a supernatural, personal being but to any ‘adversary’ and figuratively refers to human sin and temptation.[20] (wikipedia)

Sigh. I’ve tended to believe in a spiritual realm that sometimes interacts with humans, but it’s hard to be sure. But perhaps it was just a jerky guy of some sort who came to taunt at Jesus. On the other hand, maybe it was this Evil Devil, and in that case, I wonder if he was wondering to himself, “Is this The One?” (like in the Matrix).

Next thing – what does it mean when angels minister to Jesus? Some biblical scholars believe that Matthew was drawing strong influence from the Old Testament’s Elijah – he went into the wilderness, fasted, and was tended to by ravens. Others say that God sent his spirits to feed and tend to Jesus, showing him that he would always take care of him.

 

Okay, Jesus travels a lot! and it all seems to fulfill prophesies about the Messiah. And he also starts talking like John and the crazies on my university campus. What exactly was he telling them? Was it exciting? Was it scary? Was he talking about himself?

 

Here is something interesting. Jesus yells out to some hard working, probably not well-to-do working men who are out, WORKING, and they just stop working, and follow him. Did they know about him already? Did they understand Jesus’ riddles better than I do? What compelled them to drop their livelihood – and their lives – and follow this radical mountain man?

Side note, I had a friend (who worked for a subsidiary of Amway) tell me that the only way those guys were able to do that was because they were rich (excuse me, huh? why would all these family fishermen be considered rich?). He said that if they weren’t rich, they wouldn’t have followed Jesus, and this is proof that we need to be savvy businessmen (and rich) to be true followers of God. I think that’s bullshit and totally opposite of the point. The beauty of this story is this: these guys had very little, but they gave up even that to follow Christ. It also belittles or demonizes those who don’t have money. Because Jesus was rich, right?

Bullshit.

Proclaiming the gospel – gospel means good news. Okay, things are getting a little more uplifting. Maybe he wasn’t standing on the corner, screaming at students that  they were going to hell. Maybe he was reminding everyone how much God had done for his people throughout history, and they needed a reminder. I don’t know.

Oppressed by demons – what did this mean? I have never seen someone oppressed by demons. Except in movies. I know people still do exorcisms, but in most movies, that just makes the horror story more exciting – because things go terribly. But what did this really mean, back then?

Lingering Questions:

  •  was the spirit that took Jesus into the wilderness?
  • What/who is the devil?
  • What was Jesus telling everyone? What exactly was his good news?
  • What are demons, and where did they go?

 

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