The Temptation in the Wilderness

How many days was I out in the desert?
They say it was forty, but that can’t be right.
I’d taken some water, a bag full of biscuits,
Intending to stay for a day and a night.

Moses did forty days, so goes the legend.
Time begets myths, which grow by and by,
I just wanted solitude, time for reflection,
To walk on the earth and sleep under the sky.

What do you do when the baptism’s over,
The voice of the Father has faded away,
The dove that descended has gone back to heaven?
All I could think was to fast and to pray.

Out in the dazzling dawn of the desert
The depth of my darkness stood out in relief.
Lusts and desires all rose to the surface,
Faith was confused by my lack of belief.

What if I followed the obvious answer
And used this new power to conquer the world?
To lead a rebellion, to challenge the Romans
And take all the glory and keep all the gold?

I was all by myself, yet aware of a presence
Dogging my footsteps – a devilish tread,
A whisper: “If Jahweh is really your father,
Command these few stones to be made into bread.”

I thought about this for a while, then considered
That over the course of an aeon or so
The stones of the earth had become wheat and barley;
The miracle started a long time ago!

I dreamt in the night I had flown to the temple
And stood looking down from a dizzying height.
A voice said, “Jump off, for the angels will save you.
Now wouldn’t that be a miraculous sight!”

“The people would know you had come to be worshipped.
They’d fall at your feet and declare you Messiah!”
I answered, “The angels are always around me,
Reminding me not to be duped by a liar.”

And then in a flash we were up on a mountain
With all of earth’s kingdoms spread out like a map.
“All this will I give you, for ‘tis in my power,
Just bow down and worship me, there’s a good chap.”

That’s when I realised I’d come there to find him,
To meet with the sinister side of my soul,
For this is the darkness that treads close behind me,
The shadow without which no person is whole.

First came the water and then came the wilderness,
Daybreak assuredly follows the night.
We are a mixture of good and of evil,
We are the darkness and we are the light.

Say to your devil, “I need you to serve me,
Keeping me always reliant on God.
Without some resistance there is no creation,
Now get thee behind me and give me a prod!”


Matthew 4:1-11