July 14, 2010

Jesus' time with Satan, Pt.3

At some point on Jesus' walk home from Jerusalem's Temple, the adversary appeared to him once again.  Like before, Satan either called to Jesus or somehow beckoned for Jesus to follow.  We're not sure just where they wound up, on this final excursion, but given the almost certain assumption that Jesus was walking, they can't have been going to far.

After some length of time with Satan surreptitiously guiding Jesus down roads and up hills, the devil eventually led him to the top of a high mountain.  (Gerizim?  Carmel?  Tabor?)  Whichever peak they ascended, the roads Jesus had been walking on wound north, through Samaria and Galilee.  So, as this mountain was most likely outside Judea, it was fitting for Satan to now offer Jesus a vision of all the world beyond Israel.

With or without conversation, Jesus made clear his willingness to accept whatever style of image transferral the devil was offering.  So then, perhaps telepathically, the devil shared images of all the kingdoms he'd traveled to, while wandering over the earth.  I will give you all this, if you will fall down and worship me.

With this, we must pause.  Bread made perfect sense.  Healed suicide would have been a way to indeed prove his identity.  But what reason would Satan have to act as if Jesus would want all the earth?  The only answer suggesting itself, to this point, is Jesus' prior response, "Man..."  In the Hebrew Bible, it was one of God's first injunctions to Man that he possess the land and rule over it.  Thus, we have sudden and undeniable allusions to Eden, and Satan is playing the serpent.

However, for our purposes here we don't have to decide if Genesis is historical or allegorical.  Whichever the case, Satan-if-historical would have known that story well, and Satan-if-everlasting would have been an original party to whatever event that story referred to.  The theme in the Hebrew Bible of possessing the land runs from Eden to Babylon, and back to Israel.  That's not surprising.  What is striking here, ultimately, is that Satan now offers God's Man all the world!

We don't know what kind of logic the devil was playing with, but a pattern may just have emerged.

To be continued...

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