9 Then the devil took Jesus to Jerusalem,
and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,
10for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you,
to protect you”,
“On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.” ’
12Jesus answered the devil, ‘It is said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” ’
Jerusalem is not the wilderness. Jerusalem is the great city. It is the place of walls and temples, the place of kings and armies, the place of wealth, prestige, glitter, and glamour. Jerusalem appears to be the place of strength, security, and safety.
But, the security of Jerusalem is an illusion.
There is no safety behind manmade walls or humanly constructed temples. I will dash my “foot against a stone” as much in Jerusalem as in the wilderness. There is no journey that does not pass through uncertain and painful terrain.
Ironically, the devil is right. He knows his scripture well:
You who live in the shelter of the Most High,
who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,
2 will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress;
my God, in whom I trust.’
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence…
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
or the arrow that flies by day,
6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
or the destruction that wastes at noonday.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.
(Psalm 91:1-3, 5,6, 11,12)
Security is not a place; it is not a circumstance or a physical condition. Security is an attitude of the heart. It resides only in the heart that is turned in trust to the unchanging power of beauty and love that we call God and that in Christian tradition we say we see embodied in the person of Jesus. This power is present as much in the wilderness as in any city ever built by human hands.