Sermon: Christine Walzer
Luke 4, 1-13 Seduction and temptation
Dear Church, dear Sisters and Brothers!
Seduction and temptation almost everywhere you look. Large billboards with colorful advertisements. On television and the Internet, advertisements with big promises. Eye-catchers that serve all the senses. Powerful pictures and slogans reach for us, Nestle in our thoughts.
Promising great happiness when we buy this or that. Promise prestige, health and a better attitude towards life. Sometimes desires are awakened that previously were there, from our point of view. Some with the promise to bring more meaning into our lives. Who doesn’t want to have meaning in his life? Sometimes it is not so easy to escape. It sounds too seductive, too logical. To see what lies behind it is not always easy. Many people know it is mainly about greed for money, about power. But there are many emotions involved that advertising world knows well. That’s why advertising does easily what it does very well: Seduce.
Jesus comes out of the desert after 40 days of fasting. One can well imagine how he is doing. He has reached his physical and mental limits.
In this state he comes up against a real seducer. A seducer who skillfully wraps his message and veils his goals excellently. These seductions have a diﬀerent quality than my decision whether or not to eat a bar of chocolate. They go deep with the intent to question and unsettle Jesus completely.
A great seducer, a personified seducer? In my opinion, seduction does not come from outside us, as a real person. The temptation lies in Jesus, in his thoughts. For me it would be too easy to blame evil actions on a wicked person, the devil. It would be too easy for me to blame a bad person, the devil, and then not take responsibility for myself. (Some may wonder why the devil is mentioned …)
I see it that way. We all have more or less evil, self-righteous or destructive thoughts in us. We all sometimes do damage, in the interpersonal realm or to ourselves.
The temptation is always there in us, there are always good reasons to give in to evil thoughts. We just do not always notice that these thoughts are not good. The reasons are often very comprehensible, logical.
Jesus fasted for 40 days, so I am not surprised that the first temptation has something to do with food.
A basic need, a desire to end these existential fears. The first temptation wants to take advantage of this primal fear.
To turn stone into bread, what a wonderful thought. There would never be too little food, no more existential fears.
In our time there are some possibilities to transform “stones into bread”. There are, for example, huge greenhouses in which you can harvest all year round, regardless of the weather. But in these cases one has succumbed to the temptation to make a lot of money with food. Vegetables are treated with many pesticides. The people who work there are not taken into consideration. This kind of “transformation” is mainly in the hands of rich corporations. There would be food for all, but some have succumbed to temptation and keep almost everything to themselves.
Jesus does not succumb to this temptation, although it is certainly not easy. He answers: “Man does not live by bread alone”. Of course, the basic need for food should be satisfied, but man needs more than food and drink. The voice of the heart also belongs to life, as does food for the soul and the spirit. For me and many people, love for life is also part of life. By this I mean thinking, seeing and acting with love and the heart. In this case to explore what I can do personally against the hunger of the body and the soul.
There we come to the next temptation. Power. Having political power is a great temptation. In order to transform the world, to change something fundamentally, you need power. An obvious thought. Unfortunately, there are many examples of politicians or other people in positions of power who abuse power. Maybe some of them have started with the wish to do good for people. But many succumb to the temptations of power. You probably know the proverb: “Power
corrupts”. You see that very often. Then it becomes chiefly about the preservation of power and money.
We also have the temptation of power. Many or all know power games in the interpersonal area. There are, for example, those who praise someone quite loudly, because there is another someone nearby – someone who needs to be shown he or she has not done well. Or: a person passes by – you turn around and the other two are leaving. Another example: one person joins several people – all of them fall silent. Social exclusion often happens unconsciously, but sometimes also intentionally.
The need for power often has to do with control, the desire to control people. There are countless examples of such power games. Unfortunately, there are also people who participate, who allow themselves to be manipulated.
This raises the question: “How do I want to live? Which politics do I support and which power games do I play in everyday life? Who and why do I let myself be manipulated? Which thoughts do I allow in my head? Above all, which thoughts do I ponder over, and turn them over and over again? To whom give I power over my thoughts?
Many people are waiting for a strong politician. They are not waiting for a Jesus who lets himself be nailed to the cross. Jesus does not take the power oﬀered to him. For him it is important: That no one should have power over another. That no one gains advantages at the expense of others. He could put an end to the misery in this world once and for all, he would have the power to do so. A very seductive thought.
The last scene of temptation is the temple. According to the ideas of that time, the Messiah will reveal himself in the temple. A rather symbolic place.
‘Jump from the roof and show your trust in God.’ There are two temptations I see in these words. Jump, and nothing will happen to you physically. Leap, and prove what your religion, what your God can do. Two great temptations.
Live as I please. Intense, not having to pay attention to body and mind. Nothing happens to me. But not only do we hear this egoistic voice in our heads! What a blessing it would be if there were no more physical injuries, no more pain and no more diseases. What a beautiful idea. But would everything then, in this world be good? Would all people then become friendly and emphatically act so?
And then faith, religion. If God would be for all people, the most important, would everything be good?
I have to think of all that has happened and is happening in the name of God. How much violence and hatred – was and is in our world – because of this. How much hard-heartedness, self- righteousness and prejudice exists, because people fanatically believe, , or believe without heart. How great the temptation, sometimes to justify bad actions with religion.
All these temptations, allurements, seductions can be in us, in our thoughts. Some of them are understandable and not at all stupid. Our need for safety, our longing for love and security is very great. There one gives oneself then into the illusions after a perfect world.
What hidden longings captivate me? If I don’t know, then I am also easier to seduce. But what can we do against these voices in our thoughts? How do we deal with them? I think it is important to recognize these thoughts in us. To realize that we have them, not to ignore them. (To act as if we are always good and right, as if we are not making any mistakes.)
It is our decision which voices in our heads we give in to. Not others, not the Evil One, tells us what to do. We decide, we are responsible for our thinking and acting. Often enough it happens that we let ourselves be seduced.
Where does help come from? Jesus invites us to follow him. He does not want to seduce us, he invites us to make decisions. He wants to be an example to us on how to deal with the adversities of life. He shows us that God loves us- irregardless if we have just made a wrong decision or are full of love. Jesus teaches us to trust in God. He is at our side, in our life. Jesus knows what it means to be exposed to temptations. He oﬀers us His help. We Can get the strength to complete the path of inner change. A change towards love. Not to lose the strength, not to break in this world. The power not to surrender, with the many voices and decisions that are to be made. The power to grow, mature and love. Amen