No, not chocolate! As we learned in Luke’s story (Lk 4:1-13) of the temptations presented to Jesus – food, power, and immortality – the greatest temptation is the temptation of security. The wilderness into which the Spirit led him was a scary place. It would be a big temptation to refuse to go into the unknown, to hang back in the “known.” That’s a strong pull, and we all feel it. When we are established, of the dominant culture, “rich” in many so many ways – then security, the preservation of “what is,” is mighty attractive. It’s easy simply to say that change is exhausting to think about; that we are too tired, or too few. But our real, God-blessed humanity is in questions and ambiguity. The reward of grappling with challenges, and then seeing our way through in love, is great indeed. Jesus refused to be trapped by expectations. Neither did he hang back.
Across our generations we have sought: security, stability, justice, transformation, survival, happiness, approval. What, really, is the difference between that which tempts, and that which motivates? Perhaps not much, but the result can be much different. Is there a temptation to sameness and security holding us in? Or what motivates us, leads us on? All three synoptic gospels have this story of the temptations. Luke is only one that concludes saying that the tempter departed from Jesus until an opportune time. In the story, “opportune time” meant another chance to present him once more with the seduction to be the messiah of that culture. What it means for us is that temptations are not defeated once and for all – least of all, not our temptation to security, to stay where we are, to refuse the Spirit leading, or pushing, us into an unknown place. There may be danger, but there also may be God, for God lives on the edge.