First Moments of the Temptation of Jesus

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be temptedby the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

5Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9“All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Chris Cook uses this painting to capture a very unique perspective on a story that I have heard countless times before. Jesus, having just been baptized by John, retreats to the wilderness to fast and pray before beginning the bulk of his ministry on earth. While Jesus is tired, hungry, and weak from his time in the wilderness, Satan sneaks in to try and seize an opportunity to capitalize on His weakened state. For a moment, Satan thinks he might have the upper hand.

God has always had power, authority, and dominion over all things and all people, Satan included. In the battle between good and evil, God has always been the one in control, regardless of how bad things seem to get. Satan, up until this point has always been the weaker dog in the fight. Seeing Jesus as a hungry, sleep-deprived, weakened man, he moves in to try and assert his power over what he sees as an easy target. For the moment, he feels like he stands a chance against this opponent.

What he doesn’t count in, however, is the fact that although Jesus is fully man, he is also fully God. He is equipped with all of the strength, power, and peace that comes from the Father above. It is through that strength that he is able to counter each of Satan’s temptations. Even in what looks like one of man’s weakest moments, God is still sovereign and absolutely in control.

Chris uses the placement of the figures in this painting in a very intentional way. He places the tempter (on the right) in a higher and more illuminated position than his target. This is meant to illustrate the appearance of Satan having the upper hand in that moment. With his arm extended out offering up the kingdoms of the world, Satan feels like he has power in this moment. This false feeling of control and power are expressed well in the almost arrogant posture that Chris gives Satan in this piece.

I love that Chris was able to capture one moment of this event in this painting. So often we focus on the same parts of Bible stories that we have heard time and time again, neglecting minutia and details that can have a tremendous impact on our understanding and perspective of the stories as a whole. He does a great job of capturing the arrogance and pride that is associated with sin, and the quiet strength that lies in Christ.

Chris Cook is a premier southern artist and owner of Madison Studios, a web design, maintenance, and e-commerce and marketing company. For his artist biography, contact information, or to view more of his work, click HERE.

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