Day 7 of our Holy Land trip had us in transition, leaving Tiberias and entering Jerusalem. As we drove toward Jerusalem, the terrain became more dry and barren. We had a full day renewing our baptisms at the site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, proceeding through Samaria where Jesus talked with the woman at the well (John 4:1-42), and visiting Jericho where Jesus healed Bartimaeus, the blind man (Mark 10:46-52). We saw a sycamore tree that commemorates the story of Zaccheus meeting Jesus at the entrance to Jericho (Luke 19:1-10) and we touched the manger and spot of Jesus’ birth at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
The Mount of Temptation provides a vivid reminder of how we are so easily tempted by everything surrounding us in the world today. Located above the plain of Jericho and west of the city, the Mount of Temptation is a dry, barren place in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11 describes how Jesus was taken to the mountain shortly after his baptism in the Jordan River to be tempted by Satan for forty days and forty nights. First, Satan tempted Jesus to satisfy an immediate need of hunger; can’t you turn the stones into manna? Next, Satan asks Jesus if he will throw himself off the mountain and then invoke the angels to save him. A third time Satan tempts Jesus, this time promising him power and authority over all the kingdoms of the Earth if Jesus will just bow down and worship Him. Jesus’ replies: “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
This picture of the Mount of Temptation shows the dry, isolated barrenness where Jesus faced Satan. It is easy to see how we are easily enticed by Satan when we are isolated from others, alone, hungry, tired, afraid, or fearful. However, God is faithful and will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
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