When the Tempter Quotes Scripture

tentaciones_de_cristo_botticelliThis poem was written as part of a sermon (of the same title) delivered at Church of the Holy Cross UCC in Hilo, Hawai’i, on March 5, 2017.

Did a quaking pulse accompany
You to the Temple’s zenith, Jesus?
With the Tempter?
Did your sandals slip or grip the cedar of the ridge?
Did your mortal soul take hold, just for a moment,
To protest:
“Tempter, you have lifted me too high”?

Ah, now you hear the words of sweet assurance:
“On their hands the messengers of God
Will bear you up,
No bruise will mar your angel-guarded feet
As gently they regain the comfort
Of the ground.”

Across the ages, words of Psalmist’s faith.
And did they challenge You to step, to leap,
To dive toward ground?
For just a moment, did you fail to see
The test it posed to God, and see instead a test
Of your own faith?

We know your story’s ending, Jesus,
How you deflected Tempter’s texts
And Tempter’s taunts
How you refused to put God to the test,
How you refused the bread and realms which were
In truth, your own.

We know this story’s end was the beginning,
Taking your unbruised feet to Galilee,
Jerusalem and Bethany and to the courts of Pilate
Where those feet were bruised and pierced by nails
For love

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