— “Temptations of Christ” by Botticelli

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Looking back over his shoulder, he walks from surety into the mouth of Hell. Alone, he trembles.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Craving discernment, longing for clarity–he has abandoned sustenance for the ethereal; and he wonders about his sanity.

And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.

That grating voice lurking at the edge of perception, the voice he senses when his eyes clench shut against the hunger. His fears, like high tide, are pulled further up the shores of his awareness.

But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.

And suddenly the words tumble forth, like water down a hillside carving its path; he has overcome once, and hope returns.

Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple and saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

He closes his eyes and tries to focus. Is the God who called him still present? Still with him?

Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

A clear rebuke. The enemy has chosen poorly; Jesus has no need of further evidence, not after the dove. And the light!

Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.

A little nearer the mark, for he earnestly desires the establishment of the kingdom that is to come. But at what price? At what cost?

Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

Recalling the Shema of his childhood, he reminds himself of the greatest command; and suddenly, in a final effort before his frail body overtakes him, he banishes the enemy and summons the dawn.

Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.


Taken from Matthew 4 (KJV)