Jesus and Satan
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “ ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
The Introduction of Satan
Reading a book called Signs & Wonders – Tarot Cards for Christians this morning, I had an epiphany. The first mention of Satan in the Bible is in the Book of Chronicles. The passage in Chronicles that mentions Satan goes back over events already written about in the book of 2 Samuel:
Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, number Israel and Judah.”2 Samuel 24:1-2
As you can see in the quote above, there is no mention of Satan. Now, let’s take a look in the book of 1 Chronicles where it is once again discussed how this census came about.
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel.1 Chronicles 21:1
Zoroastrian Influences or a Misunderstanding?
Satan first makes an appearance in the Bible after the Babylonian captivity, thanks to Zoroastrian influences, according to author of Signs & Wonders.
For those who like to dig a bit deeper, I found an article by someone who is trying to reconcile the differences. Please note that the author of this article is adamant that there can be no contradictions in the Bible. If you have read the Bible for yourself, you will know the truth of that statement. Those who worship the Bible above even God Himself will bend over backward to prove there are no contradictions or errors in the Bible. However, there are plenty examples of both.
Contemplating who incited King David to take the census is a good starting point for digging deeper. It can help you to figure out what the Devil represents to you. It’s also a good starting point for thinking about wisdom contributions from other cultures/religions.
We Are All Tempted Like Jesus
Regardless of the origins of Satan, we are all tempted like Jesus was in the desert. Three archetypal temptations present themselves in the Gospel story:
- The temptation to use spiritual power for personal gain (stones to bread)
- Seeking fame and the notion of others seeing us as special (throwing ourselves down from the highest point of the temple)
- The temptation to control and manipulate the world around us (worship the material realm)
When Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert, he was consciously engaging in the process of soul alchemy, which is what the Temperance Tarot card symbolises. This is interesting because Temperance is the card that precedes The Devil in the Major Arcana.
Prayer and fasting are ways of preparing all parts of the self through the practice of spiritual discipline. If we engage in these types of spiritual practices, we are able to develop greater discernment, thus avoiding being in a constantly reactive state of mind.
Questions to Contemplate for this Week’s Gospel and Tarot Meditation
- What are my beliefs about Satan?
- Does ‘Satan’ gain more power if I believe in him or if I don’t?
- What is my spiritual practice like at the moment?
- How can I improve my spiritual practice in the week ahead?
- What is my biggest temptation right now?
- How can I embody the freedom from sin and evil that we have through Christ?