Charlie Peacock on Following the Way of Jesus
- 2000 8 Feb
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Soon after his temptation and testing in the desert, Jesus began to preach the message that John the Baptist (now in prison) had been preaching: Repent and believe the good news and produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
At this same time, Jesus began calling his disciples. He said to them: "Come, follow me." And so after their best day fishing ever, they left family and business to follow Jesus.
The scripture teaches us that Jesus then went throughout Galilee, teaching in the synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease among the people. The news about this amazing teacher and healer spread quickly and large crowds followed him wherever he traveled.
Now, following the story sequence of the gospels, we know that next Jesus gathered his disciples together, chose twelve to be apostles, and then began to teach them, saying, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." And of course he taught many other important things on that day in what is referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. There were many witnesses to this radical teaching. What I want us to focus on in this teaching is the temptation of Jesus, specifically what is recorded as the first temptation.
It's important to remember that no gospel writer actually witnessed the temptation of Jesus. Jesus himself relayed the story to his disciples. Imagine what the moment must have been like. Can you hear Simon Peter asking Jesus the question, "Teacher, where have you traveled from and what were you doing before you called to us from along the shoreline?"
Imagine Jesus answering, "Well immediately after meeting John, I was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. I fasted for forty days and forty nights and was hungry. The tempter came to me and said, 'If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.' I answered him from the book of Deuteronomy saying, 'It is written, man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
Jesus told this story to his disciples and the Holy Spirit guaranteed its place in the history book. I want us to look at this story with new ears and new imaginations and to clearly understand what it teaches musicians about following the way of Jesus. And I want us to be reminded that Jesus knows the daily temptations common to musicians firsthand.
The three temptations, or tests, of Jesus were especially designed for him - for his supernatural ability, for his divinity, and for what the scriptures said regarding him. They were temptations that played to his weakness caused by hunger and to his divine strength and power. This is the pattern that all temptation and testing follows. It's the pattern that every musician experiences: temptation comes when we are weak as well as when we are strong and powerful.
Years ago, in a substance abuse recovery group, I learned to never get too tired, too lonely, or too hungry. All three of these make me susceptible to succumbing to temptation. But I'm equally tempted through my strength and power as a creative individual as well. It's easy to think of temptation coming through our weakness. It's harder to remember that temptation is just as apt to come through the strength and power of our talents, gifts, and personalities, through our influence, achievement and wealth.
The first temptation of Jesus takes into account both weakness and power: "Since you're hungry Jesus, since you're weak, and since you are the all-powerful Son of God, why don't you tell these stones to become bread. By doing so you'll demonstrate your supernatural power and rid yourself of hunger."
Jesus was tempted to use his power for selfish purposes, something that he refused to do his entire time on earth. This is the same type of temptation presented to imaginative and talented musicians day in and day out. We are constantly tempted to use everything that God has given us-from material possessions to the talents we possess-for our own selfish advantage.
When Jesus answered Satan by saying, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God" was he discounting our need for food? No, he was communicating a greater reality, the reality that life itself is found in God alone. "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work." (John 4:34)
A similar response will serve musicians as well. Follow in the way of Jesus. Remember, if at all possible don't get too tired, too lonely, or too hungry. And keep your hands off the power and the glory. When tempted, remember Jesus.