The temptation of Christ is recorded in the three synoptic gospels.
The painting depicts the face of the devil, also called Satan, being inside the head of Christ, shown here silhouetted in profile.
Some people doubt the existence of the evil one as a actual being. They consider the devil to be a mythological character who does not exist except in some people's imaginations. However, the psychologist, Carl Jung, described a shadow archetype figure within the unconscious mind. The shadow is a personification of dark thoughts. From this we might conclude that the shadow archetype and the devil might be one in the same. If true, this means that Satan resides in our minds and is the source of evil thoughts.
Jung encouraged people to acknowledge the existence of the shadow and its tendencies while developing more positive sides of our personalities.
The features of the devil’s face spell S-I-N, and the pupils of the eyes are skulls which symbolize death.
Sin in this instance is emblematic of separation from God and thereby separation from all that is good.
On the forehead is a dirty, crowded city or perhaps a factory in which people are deprived of their humanity and have become mere cogs in a large, man-made machine.
The story tells us that the Christ went into the wilderness, and, to me, that means he was seeking solitude and probably confronting a personal struggle. I believe it is significant that the temptation comes immediately after the baptism. It shows me that temptation follows consecration.
Forty days is a Jewish expression that does not mean a precise number of days but several days.
The three temptations involve: first, satisfying physical desires; second, the acquisition of personal power; and, third, allegiance to the evil one. All of them involve forms of narcissism -- raising the self above all else. They are grounded in the false perception of seeing oneself as a disconnected, lone individual who is struggling in a basically cruel and unfriendly world. The reality is we are each A PART OF (not APART FROM) the family of humankind.
I believe that Jesus was genuinely tempted, but was able to resist these temptations because he had an entirely different, overriding perspective which is reflected in his rebuttals to Satan's enticements.
Do you ever feel alone and even resentful that you're struggling by yourself in this complex world in which we are living today?
Does it give you comfort to realize that Jesus confronted those very feelings?
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