Tempted as a Man


A group of nuns were asked about human aspects of Jesus. They agreed that he must have experienced temptation in all the same areas as other human beings - except one. These ladies could not bring themselves to believe that their master ever experienced sexual temptation. Understandable. Sex and the Son of God don’t sit too happily together in our imaginations. The fact is, though, that the divinity of Jesus was never so apparent as when he triumphed in his humanity. He was, in a sense, God's second shot at creating a man who might retain the image of God in which he’d been made without messing the image up with sin. Adam was the first, and, as we all know, he blew it. 

Jesus, carrying his divinity like a backpack, faced and resisted the gritty temptations that we all face, sexual temptation included. And his mission was to achieve this, not by opening his backpack and throwing a few divine explosives around like that lunatic wizard in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but as an act of obedience performed by a human being in deference to his God. We shall never fully comprehend this because, quite apart from the cloud of paradoxes that engulf us when we try, we don’t know what it means to have such power available and choose not to employ it. On the other hand, it might increase my appreciation of the sacrifice Jesus made for me, to understand that this platform for his ministry, this victory over temptation, was the product of very basic, very human sweat and determination. 

Perish the thought, but imagine for a moment that Jesus had been able to appear on the Parkinson show, happily sandwiched between Dolly Parton and Ben Elton. 

"What gave you most satisfaction in those famous three years of yours?" Parkinson might ask. "The miracles, perhaps?" 

How would Jesus reply? I think he might say that, in one sense, the miracles were the easy part. Exhausting yes, but where faith met willingness there was nothing to prevent his Father from performing a miracle. Those forty days in the desert, though; that moment when Peter tried to persuade him that he needn't go through with the crucifixion; that night in Gethsemane - those were the make or break times, the gritted teeth times, the times when it might have been easier to give in than do the right thing. Satisfaction certainly, but only in knowing that he’d gone on making the right choices right up to the end. 

I feel absolutely sure that Dolly and Ben would have been entranced.