In 2006 I was invited to Wesley Acres Family Camp in Southern Ontario to deliver a set of lectures on “The Temptations of Jesus”. It was a six day event that whet my appetite to continue to dig deeper into the theme in the years since. After another half dozen years of reflection on the theme, I decided to put into print my thoughts.
My Reasons for this study, then and now
I am not being pragmatic at all. It is not geared to help you wrestle with your own temptations. Though you may glean some insights that may assist you. But that is not my purpose.
This series of studies may make you a better theologian, in that you will have pondered with other thoughtful people on one of the more arresting events in the life of Jesus our Lord. But that is not my intent.
So why do I choose this particular theme? Dare I say it? It is intended for sheer delight. There is great pleasure in meditating upon the scriptures, and in particular those passages that just beg for further exploration. There is a particular delight in reflecting together about who Jesus was and is, and to think together about the work he did on our behalf.
These studies were first prepared for people on vacation. The atmosphere was relaxed while also being nourishing. I have little desire to make us so “purpose driven” that we are always on the stretch and forever in deadly earnest.
These studies can be a “royal waste of time” as Marva Dawn calls our times of worship. Vacation days are not days primarily for work, but for playing in the world of nature and in the church. One of Eugene Peterson’s recent books is called “Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places.” It is a good thing to play in God’s great creation, and in God’s revelation of Himself in Jesus and the Scriptures.
So during those original lectures, I informed the hearers, that I intended to be an absolute hedonist, taking pleasure in times of worship and learning, taking pleasure at the dining table and in the coffee breaks, in early morning wanderings along the shore line and watching children play and your lovers walk hand in hand.
And my hope was that we would all engage in that wonderful pleasure of drawing closer to God who is the source of all love, beauty, joy and blessedness. Hopefully, as the study progresses we would find ourselves caught up in that sacred dance where Father, Son & Holy Spirit invite us into the joy they experience with each other.
These are the chapters of those reflections that are still intended to draw “you in and higher up”. Enjoy.
Here are the chapter headings, intended to give you an overview of how we shall move through the theme of “The Temptations of Jesus.
- A Very Painful Event
- The Sinlessness of Jesus
- His Baptism As a Tempting Event
- The Devil Made Me Do It
- Tested and Tempted
- Mark’s Account of the Temptations
- Matthew’s Account of the Temptations
- Luke’s Account of the Temptations
- Stones To Bread
- Jump From the Temple
- All the Kingdoms
If you want to listen in on the 2006 event at Wesley Acres, if you email me I would be glad to send you a copy of the audio files. The audio files do not match the written text, and include many tangents as that original audience interacted with questions (often inaudible) to which I responded.
Welcome to the conversation!
David N. Ashton