Luke 4:9-13 (ESV)
9 And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
12 And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 13 And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
It is old-fashioned today to view the world as a home for the devil, unless there is money to be made. Novels, movies, and streaming videos reap good returns by scaring audiences with stories that revel in portraying a personified, supernatural evil. Their writers and directors can be quite good at developing storylines to excite our sense of terror as humanity confronts eerie, powerful agents of darkness and death.
Yet the creators of these fictions do their finest work when their protagonists’ resistance of evil erodes from the inside. That internal turning to darkness offers greater potential for true terror, for it mirrors our own fascination with “the dark side.” Isn’t this what motivates our attraction to horror stories in the first place? What else could transform the heinous to the alluring? Don’t we all long to “dance with the devil?” Aren’t we all ready to throw ourselves down from the pinnacles of our skin-deep, ill-fitting, off-balance rectitude?
This is true of us all at times, unless you are blind. How else could temptation gain any power over us?
It is Lent. You have been invited to contemplate your heart’s true desires, perhaps a far more frightening experience than anything from Stephen King. This focus holds out a blessing, however; it is a necessary stepping stone to a genuine repentance, one which rests on the exhaustion of our wills to be and to look good. For it is there, in that dark, churning maelstrom where our heart’s genuine desires seek our destruction, that we may behold the radiance of the One who came only to save.
That is the vision that makes Good Friday good; for it re-fashions our hearts to burst with a true, bright love on Easter morning.
Heavenly Father, help our Lenten examinations lead us to Your Son.