Theme 3 : Artwork 2

Reflection Title: 
Son of God, Son of Man
Reflection Content: 

Jesus sits alone. The weight of the ordeal in the wilderness, the spiritual struggle written on his face, embodied. To Satan’s words, “If Thou art God’s Son, command that these stones become loaves,” he responded, “Man shall not live by bread alone.” Addressed as the Son of God and invited to be the Bread King, he responds as the Son of Man. This is a retelling of the other temptation, in the Garden of Paradise, when the First Adam forgot he was made in the image of God, a Son of God, and thought he needed to become like a god, and so lost himself. Here the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, shows a pathway of restoration. Satan’s truth statements, his quoting of scripture, grounded in deception, is vanquished by the Son of Man, who walks through the temptation, engages the struggle, and remembers he is both the Son of God and the Son of Man. The Second Adam restores and illuminates again in human nature what the First Adam darkened and vanquished to the sea of forgetfulness.


Story Title: 
Satan’s Scripture
Story Content: 

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And having fasted forty days and forty nights, afterwards He hungered. And the tempter, having come to Him, said, “If Thou art God’s Son, command that these stones become loaves.” But He answered and said, “It hath been written: ‘Man shall not live by bread along, but by every word which goeth forth out of the mouth of God.’” Then the devil taketh Him to the holy city, and setteth Him upon the wing of the temple, and saith to Him, “If Thou art God’s Son, cast Thyself down; for it hath been written: ‘He shall enjoin His angels concerning Thee; and upon their hands shall they take Thee up, lest ever Thou strike Thy foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “On the other hand, it hath been written: ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.’” Again, the devil taketh Him to an exceedingly high mountain, and showeth Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them. And he saith to Him, “All these things will I give to Thee if Thou wilt fall down and make obeisance to me.” Then Jesus saith to him, “Get thee behind Me, Satan. For it hath been written: ‘Thou shalt make obeisance to the Lord they God, and Him alone shalt thou worship.’” Then the devil leaveth Him, and behold, angels drew near and were ministering to Him.


Contemporary Story Title: 
Grand Inquisitor
Contemporary Story Content: 

British director, theatre producer and author Peter Brook has produced a stage adaptation for Dostoyevsky’s story of the Grand Inquisitor. In 2008, the play debuted in select cities in the United States starring actor Bruce Meyers. It is solely composed of a monologue, one actor speaking as Ivan Karamazov voicing the Grand Inquisitor and the other, representing Alyosha Karamazov, or Christ, to whom the monologue is directed. The tale is set in Seville at the height of the Inquisition. Christ quietly comes to earth, walks through the city, and as people recognize him, he blesses and heals them. Then, on the orders of the Grand Inquisitor, Christ is taken to a prison in the High Court, and an interrogation begins. Ivan’s Inquisitor says:
“For the mystery of man’s being is not only in living, but in what one lives for. Without a firm idea of what he lives for, man will not consent to live and will sooner destroy himself than remain on earth, even if there is bread all around him . . . Did you forget that peace and even death are dearer to man than free choice in the knowledge of good and evil? There is nothing more seductive for man than the freedom of his conscience, but there is nothing more tormenting either.  And so, instead of a firm foundation for appeasing human conscience once and for all, you chose everything that was unusual, enigmatic, and indefinite, you chose everything that was beyond men’s strength, and thereby acted as if you did not love them as all—and who did this? He who came to give his life for them! Instead of taking over men’s freedom, you increased it and forever burdened the kingdom of the human soul with its torments. You desired the free love of man, that he should follow you freely, seduced and captivated by you. Instead of the firm, ancient law, man had henceforth to decide for himself, with a free heart, what is good and what is evil, having only your image before him as a guide— but did it not occur to you that he would eventually reject and dispute even your image and your truth if he was oppressed by so terrible a burden as freedom of choice? They will finally cry out that the truth is not in you, for it was impossible to leave them in greater confusion and torment than you did, abandoning them to so many cares and insoluble problems. Thus you yourself laid the foundation for the destruction of your own kingdom . . . There are three powers, only three powers on earth, capable of conquering and holding captive forever the conscience of these feeble rebels, for their own happiness— these powers are miracle, mystery, and authority.  You rejected the first, the second, and the third and gave yourself as an example of that. . . . We corrected your deed and based it on miracle, mystery, and authority.  And mankind rejoiced that they were once more led like sheep, and that at last such a terrible gift, which had brought them so much suffering, had been taken from their hearts.”

Artwork Title: 
Artwork Content: 

Russian painter Ivan Kramskoi (1837–1887), the founder of the Wanderers, a Realism movement, was preoccupied with the vision of Christ in the wilderness for several years. When his painting, Christ in the Wilderness, was exhibited, it sparked a controversy. Kramskoi responded on December 27, 1873:
“Christ’s figure haunted me for a long time. The Gospel story is the monument of the psychological process that humanity went through. Moreover, everything that the followers of Christianity included into this process later, which also became a part of the Christian tradition, all deserve to be respected. But I will tell more, Christianity was never understood or accepted correctly by humanity. […] People say that Christ is an ideal, he is God. Well, why then is everything that he taught and did possible and understandable? […] At this time of demoralization, he lived till his thirtieth birthday as all other people lived, he ate, drank, and slept as anybody else did. But suddenly he had felt despair for the future of humanity and decided to find a way. Before that moment of truth, he needed to leave people to remain alone and contemplate and ponder. How long he strayed and what places he visited, is not important. The most essential here is what his inner voice, (his Father’s voice as he understood it) was telling him. And the strangest thing is that I saw his thinking and crying figure. I saw him as if he was alive. Once I saw him sitting at dawn. He was sitting, with his hands clasped and his head was lowered, his mouth dried in a long silence. He did not notice me, so I left tiptoeing, aiming not to bother him. After that encounter, I was never able to forget him. Thus, I had to try to paint him to share my impression with other people. Everything you see in the painting is true.” 

—Ivan Kramskoi, (1837-1887). Pis’ma.  

Question Title: 
Satan, the rumor monger?
Question Content: 

Slaves Again
Jesus chose to be the Liberator rather than the Bread King, but in that [so says the Inquisitor] he was mistaken. . . . Ever since that mistake, his followers had been coming to the powers of the earth in both church and state, to “lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, ‘Make us your slaves, but feed us.’”
—Jaroslav Pelikan, (1923-2006).

The Wilderness
Have you wandered in a wilderness? Have you met the tempter, the voice that offers a reasonable choice between one truth and another, one good and another? How did you respond? Where did it lead? Thinking back on that moment, can you identify what it was within your own mind and heart that made it possible for you to hear the tempter’s voice, the call to an alternative? Did your response lead to a deeper understanding? Did it reveal a part of your inner life? Did it move you deeper into the wilderness or ground you in the best of yourself?

Music Content: 

Ud: Variations on Syriac Melodies

The sounds of the wilderness are here represented by music of the ud—the ten-stringed instrument of Psalms 33, 92 and 144. The ud—from which descended the lute (l’ud) and guitar—is an ancient stringed instrument still in use in the Middle East. Jubal, son to Lamak and brother to Noah, is traditionally credited with developing its earliest form. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the ancestor of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Genesis 4:21 (NRSV) The transfer of terms for lyre and lute appears more subtly in the myth of the invention of the ud which has been handed down in two variants from the 9th and 10th centuries, the first being Iraqi (Robson, 1938) and the second Iranian (Mas’udi, 1874). They say that the ud was invented by Lamak [sixth grandson of Adam], a direct descendant of Cain; on the death of Lamak’s son, he hung his remains in a tree, and the desiccated skeleton suggested the form of the ud. The myth attributes the invention of the mi’zaf (lyre) to Lamak’s daughter. 

(Stanley Sadie: The New Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, vol. 3, p. 688)

The ud invigorates the body. It places the temperament in equilibrium… It calms and revives hearts. 

(Muhammad Shihab al-Din: Safinat al-mulk, p. 466)

“Ud: Variations on Syriac Melodies.” Maronite tradition, Chant Traditional Maronite, Elie Kesrouani, ud, Harmonia Mundi 1991. Track 15.


A Companion to Stiff

Shakers (the United Society of Believers) refer to the proud, rigid self within as “Old Stiff.” Gestures and stomping accompany a song such as this to help cast off impulses to turn away from God, echoing the manner in which Jesus rejected Satan’s attempt to divert him from what he was called to do and to be.

“A Companion to Stiff.” Shaker traditional, Simple Gifts: Shaker Chants and Spirituals, Daniel McCabe, Joel Cohen, director, Erato 1995. Track 10.


It’s Up To Me

“It’s Up To Me,” Pennywise, Land of the Free?, Epitaph 2001. Track 10.

Image Theme: 
Image Thumbnail: 
Image Summary: 

Christ in the Wilderness, 1873. Ivan Kramskoi, 1837–1887. 

Story Audio: 

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