Saturday, April 07, 2007

"For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin." - Hebrews 4:15

I have always been fascinated by the divinity and humanity of Christ. And some questions related to the above passage remains a mystery to me.

How much temptation could Christ have suffered? Or did he even suffer at all being tempted? And although it says that he was “tempted, yet without sin,” would such temptation have an impact to Christ as to make him have the possibility to commit sin?

Why is it significant that I ask these things? If indeed we have a high priest such as Christ who can sympathize with our weaknesses, how intense was the temptation that he has undergone? Could he relate to the difficulty or the struggle that we do encounter every day, every hour, and even every minute from fighting temptation, in doing good and avoiding evil?

Another question related to this verse is the question of Christ’s divinity. That Christ, being tempted, therefore cannot be God if one reads James 1:13 which says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone." But I will not concern myself on this issue this time in order not to muddle my concern on the depth of Christ’s temptation.

Great controversy has been raised when the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis, “The Last Temptation of Christ” was published. This was considered so blasphemous that the Roman Catholic Church included it in it’s List of Prohibited Books (Index Librorum Prohibitorum). Kazantzakis’ depiction of Christ is that of a very passionate and emotional human being whose mission he is trying to understand. In a scene in the dessert, a “snake with the eyes and breasts of a woman” taunted Christ and said “You are afraid of being alone. Your great-grandfather Adam had the same fear. He too shouted for help. His flesh and soul united, and woman emerged from his rib to keep him company.” In the same passage, Christ was being seduced by the serpent with the image of Mary Magdalene. “It’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene… it’s Magdalene you must save!” the snake hissed imperatively. “Not the Earth – forget about the Earth. It’s her, Magdalene, you must save!”

We all know that Kazantzakis’ novel has no doctrinal basis and is just a figment of his overly and overtly creative imagination. But the question cannot be denied. Has Christ undergone such temptations, or something similar to (if not even worse than) what Kazantzakis has written? Has he ever had the desire for a woman? We know that Christ had great compassion towards people, but has he ever had the same emotion as we have, having the ability to develop anger or rage? Could he have struggled and suffered the way we did? Or did he just brush them off aside casually and unperturbed?

How far could he have sympathized with us?

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