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Distracted by the Temptress



"Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Matthew 16:23

The next stage of the Hero's Journey is often called "Woman as Temptress".  Similar to the last stage, the connection to the feminine is tenuous at best.  In this stage, the Hero is distracted by something that is not in line with their quest.  It is often the temptation of a physical, material, comfort, or carnal nature.  Let's look at a couple of examples.

In the original Star Wars Trilogy, Luke and Han became distracted by Leia.  They swooned over her and fought with each other in an attempt to impress her.  On several occasions, this put them in serious danger.  In The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Frodo is tempted to give the ring to Gandalf, Galadriel, and even Sam.   In the story of Samson, he faced the Temptress in the form of Delilah who used his love for her to trick him over and over. 

Jesus faced the "temptress" on two pivotal occasions.  

The first was after his baptism.  Just before his ministry began he went off into the wilderness.  The scriptures tell us that Satan met him there and challenged him three times.  In the first challenge, he encouraged Jesus to use his powers to turn the rocks into bread so that he could fill his empty belly.  Jesus quoted scripture.  Then Satan took Jesus to the top of the temple and challenged him to throw himself off to prove his calling because the prophecy said that the Messiah would not strike his foot against a stone.  Jesus quoted scripture.  Then Satan took him to a mountain and offered Jesus power over the world if he would just bow and worship him.  Jesus quoted scripture.  In these three temptations, Jesus was tempted to feed his hunger, answer his doubts, and offered great power.  These are the sort of temptations we all face, distractions that seem to answer our greatest needs, but come at the cost of something greater.  

Jesus' second major encounter with the "temptress" came in the form of his best friend.  He had just mustered the courage to tell his friends that he would be killed and that God would raise him from the dead.  Peter could not handle the idea of his best friend's death, so he tried to talk some sense into him.  I suspect he said something like "Jesus, you can't be talking like this!  Stop this nonsense about dying, you are meant to be KING!".  Jesus replied, "Get behind me Satan!".   It's hard to imagine how that label must have felt, but sometimes it is your best friends giving their best advice that holds you back from your quest.  

God, help us to notice when we are being tempted or distracted into complacency.  Help us to avoid the trap of meeting our physical or material needs at the cost of something greater.  Teach us to speak truth into our loved one's lives, and not play the role of the temptress ourselves.  Amen. 

  

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