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LAWSON: Lessons in the wilderness
After he was baptized by John, Jesus retreated into the wilderness, and he was there tempted by hunger and adversity, or a material sense of existence. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) Rejecting the suggestions of the carnal or mortal mind, he demonstrated man’s identity as the beloved child of God.
First, Jesus was tempted to believe that life is material, and that matter sustains our very existence. He rejected the mesmeric suggestion that he “change” stones into bread to sustain life. Jesus replaced that claim with the divine truth that man is sustained by God. He proved that life is not dependent upon matter, even as he affirmed: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” He later would prove to thousands that supply is spiritual and unrestricted.
Next, Jesus was tempted to “test” Mind’s ever-present control. The carnal mind suggested that he throw himself down from the temple to learn whether God, divine Love, would save him. Jesus declared: “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines “tempt” as “to try presumptuously.”) He later would demonstrate God’s constant care as he raised himself and others (including Lazarus) from death.
Finally, Jesus refused to be seduced by the “the world” and its “glory,” that they were more desirable than the universe of Spirit. The carnal mind suggested that if Jesus would only “fall down and worship” matter, he would have his every human desire. Rejecting that argument, he said: “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Then, “the devil leaveth him,” and God’s angels “ministered unto him,” confirming James’ later promise (James 4:7): “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, alludes to Jesus’ wilderness experience in her definition of “wilderness” in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “Loneliness; doubt; darkness. Spontaneity of thought and idea; the vestibule in which a material sense of things disappears, and spiritual sense unfolds the great facts of existence.”
From time to time, each of us has a wilderness experience, but if we humbly ask our Father-Mother God for courage and strength, we are never given a stone or serpent. Luke 11: 11. Angels (spiritual, right ideas) come to us and bless us. His angels are both shield and buckler (Psalms 91:4), giving us the ability to reject doubt and fear. As we resist any suggestion that God is not All-in-all, mortal mind yields, leaving only God’s spiritual ideas.
Mr. Lawson is president of Christian Science Society, Bristol, Tennessee, and he may be contacted at [email protected]
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