God tempts no one (2)

Reading:  James 1

13 When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

I’m sure I never realised as clearly as I do here what the Bible and Luther mean by "temptation." Quite suddenly, and for no apparent physical or psychological reason, the peace and composure that were supporting one are jarred. … It feels like an invasion from outside, as if by evil powers trying to rob one of what is most vital.

Letter to his parents from Tegel prison, 15 May 1943

Thought

The Gospels report that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matt 4:1). So the temptation does not begin with the Father arming the Son with all powers and weapons, so that he can win the battle. No, the Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness, into solitude, into forsakenness. God removes from his Son all human and creaturely help. The hour of temptation is supposed to find Jesus weak, alone, and hungry. God leaves human beings alone in temptation. . . .

What must remain incomprehensible to all human, ethical, and religious thought is that in temptation God does not reveal himself as the one who is gracious and near, who arms us with all gifts of the Spirit. Rather, God forsakes us and is quite distant from us. We are in the wilderness.