When I look at this image taken during a walk on my retreat, I see a rocky out-cropping which reminds me of the temptation-cliff we read about in the gospel. Jesus was led to it by The Holy Spirit and, we are told, was also full of the Holy Spirit.
After the temptation to turn stone to bread and before the temptation to jump and be caught by angels, Jesus is shown all kingdoms and invited to be in charge of them and to have their glory in exchange of transferring worship from God to Satan. It must have been quite a view. It must also have felt lonely to be a human caught in this wilderness, alone, with voices in one’s head.
But the temptations are the one passage with which I most identify sometimes. Especially in Lent. It is not the big temptations which get me like hosting an orgy or buying a ridiculously expensive car. I can see those coming early and I am just too tired at this point in my life to sin that robustly. No. It is the small ones that get me.
Sins like looking at work, past a dog wanting to play with me. Sins like withholding a hug when I know it would be appreciated. Sins like staying up late to type notes from a meeting when my body needs sleep before the next day begins. Sins like circling a topic in conversation which I know, by entering into it, will require my effort to help soothe.
When Jesus is tempted to turn rocks to bread, be adored by a kingdom or be caught by angels, he is being tempted to the pride of relieving hunger, the pride of being adored and the pride of being noticed. But those little sins I mentioned – looking past Kai, withholding love, overwork, withholding healing – those little sins which most people could not see with their eyes remind me that the temptations of Jesus, and our own temptations, are less about what we do and more about how we live.