Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Louis CK Bible Study Week 4 Recap: the Evil of Jizanthapus

This one was custom.

   Throughout our culture, the idea of the Devil has taken many forms. Is Satan the weird furry red thing at the end of Insidious? Is he the weird gender-neutral albino from Passion of the Christ? Or, is he embodied in rap music, such as Naughty by Nature’s classic “Hip Hop Hooray,” that I may or may not be listening to right now? The Devil can be totally mysterious, and because of that, he can also be terrifying. This week, the Delta Chi Bible Study looks to find out who this Satan guy is—through the Great Deceiver’s interactions with our main man Jesus Christ. That is right, Jesus and Satan once squared off in the desert and completely threw down. As always, let’s look at this with our pal Louis CK.
  First off, watch the clip!

   Alright—what does that have to do with the Devil? First thing we talked about at Delta Chi is what exactly we picture the Devil to be. What does he look like? Is he an angel or a serpent or some kind of superhuman? The reality is, Satan can take many forms (with our guy Louis CK, he just happens to be embodied in a little shit-kindergartner). And while we may not really see him in a tangible form these days—sorry, horror movies—he does work through something called temptation. Let’s look to our passage for a picture of what this looks like. This is out of Mark, but you could also call this Jesus/Satan Royal Smackdown Celebrity Rumble (because, seriously, the Bible would be so much cooler if you sprinkled it with some WWE-inspired chapter titles).

Matthew 4
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

   There it is—one of the ultimate battles of good and evil in the history of the world, as told in the bible. That is some real talk going on between Jesus and the Devil, but on the surface, it seems like a bunch of cryptic Da Vinci Code-type talk—just a bunch of guys spouting off rules and codes and trying to outwit each other one after the other.
   Well essentially, that is exactly what is happening. Satan is trying to take Scripture out of context and use those passages against Jesus, but Jesus is able to reject each and every one. Let’s break this down.
The First Temptation—Physical Needs
   Satan first asks Jesus to turn the nearby stones into bread. Remember that the J-Man has been fasting for 40 days at this point (world record for longest fast? 43 days—this is some serious stuff going down), so this temptation would be a serious test of willpower. To us, the choice seems easy—Jesus can do whatever he wants, so why not just have some bread and kick it for a while? However, Jesus is smarter than this, and rather than giving in to his hunger and appeasing the Devil, he simply comments that man does not live on bread alone, but rather, finds satisfaction in his relationship with God. Solid counter. Notice how he barely even acknowledges the temptation.

The Second Temptation—Love
 Then, the Devil takes Jesus up to the highest place in all of Jerusalem. He asks Jesus to throw himself off, because God’s angels are guaranteed to catch him. He will prove his relationship with God in this way. Again, it seems like it would make sense for Jesus to just do the miracle. BAM—I am the Son of God. Boom, roasted. Again, however, he does not. Instead, Jesus turns to Scripture and explains that God has commanded us not to put Him to the test. His response is again characterized by a total disregard for what the Devil is asking. There is no consideration or hesitation at all—Jesus just will not do it.

The Third Temptation—Power
   Finally, the Devil asks one simple thing: for Jesus to bow down and worship him. In return, Jesus will be made ruler of everything he can see. Jesus pays this the least attention of all, denouncing Satan and declaring that he will worship only the Father. The Devil disappears and Jesus chills with the angels for a while.

   What remains consistent? A couple things. For one, Jesus never performs the miracles. He uses Scripture to counter the Devil’s use of Scripture (which we will talk about in a minute), and never gives in. We will see that this is the perfect model of how we should respond to Satan as well (Jesus Christ’s Keys to the Game, if you will).
   The other thing that remains consistent is the Devil’s sheer incomprehension for who he is dealing with. The Scripture he quotes is horribly out of context (the angels he refers to in the second temptation can be seen as highly metaphorical in the Psalm they are taken from—that passage itself actually talks about how God will protect us and shelter us in all situations, not about how he is going to send an army of angels for us to use whenever we want), and his understanding of Jesus is something narrow and limited. You see, the Devil tempts Jesus with things that would typically work on someone human. Food—we need that. Love—we crave that. Power—we demand that. The thing is, since Jesus is just as much God as he is man, these things do not have the same implications for him that they do for us.
   In a way, though, this should be encouraging. If we have Jesus on our side—the Devil literally has no idea how to defeat us! He does not understand the power that Christ has! That is amazing! Of course, this does not mean we have a Get Out Of Jail Free card for every time the Devil tries to deceive us. In fact, we still have a lot of work to do.
   Thank goodness for this passage, because  Jesus has given us his Keys to the Game. Now, from a Christian perspective, it is well-known that the Devil works in the world. He tempts us with all sorts of things—terrible food, unsatisfying relationships, porn—essentially, a lot of things that turn us toward ourselves and away from God. The Devil wants us to put ourselves before God—bottom line. He tried to do this with Jesus in the desert. He tried to tempt Jesus with all of these worldly things so that Jesus would break his fast and come into conflict with God.
   Here is how Jesus won, or rather, here are the Jesus Christ Keys to the Game:
1.       Know yourself. Jesus acknowledges his human side, which might be why the Devil thought he could sway Him with worldly things. However, Jesus also is confident with his place in God’s Kingdom (his kingdom, really). He understands what it means to be the Son of God, and with that knowledge, he is able to outwit the Devil using Scripture. He can lean on his knowledge of Himself.
2.       Know the Devil. Jesus knows how the Devil works, and this is predominantly seen in the final temptation. The Devil offers Christ the world, but in actuality, there is nothing the Devil can offer that Jesus does not have already. In fact, the Devil has no power to give anything. All Satan can do is tempt us—he cannot create evil people or evil action, he can only urge us to consider those actions. And, since Jesus knows how to counter these temptations, he can renounce the Devil completely. Pretty badass, in all honesty.
3.       Lean on your homies. What does Jesus do at the end of the passage? He surrounds himself with angels—people who can support him and be with him. In our own lives, we can do similar things with our friends and our family, and in settings like Delta Chi, our fraternity brothers. We need fellowships around us who can support our relationship with God and serve as scaffolding on our climb to heaven. Even Jesus, in his hour of need, turned to his friends. We saw it at the Last Supper with his disciples, and we see it in his time with the angels here.

   So this week, think about how you respond to temptation, and think about how you use Christ’s Keys to the Game. Remember that the Devil is real, but that God is undefeated against him. Jesus wins every time when it comes to Jesus/Stan Royal Smackdown Celebrity Rumble, so even though it does not make for great drama, it does make for some incredible lessons.