This week’s readings are Matthew 4 and Luke 4 and 5. These chapters expand on some of the events we saw briefly in Mark 1 last week. So much happens that I won’t be attempting a complete commentary.
Temptations in the Desert
Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13
We begin with three approaches to Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ temptations: the logistics, which have theological implications; the temptations themselves and their relevance to us ordinary mortals; and Jesus’ scriptural responses, which, taken in context, emphasize a certain theme. Then we’ll briefly note some parallel events and passages in scripture.
Logistics: The Devil’s Role
The King James Version (KJV) and the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) differ on key points, where Jesus’ sojourn in the wilderness and his temptations are concerned. The KJV accounts raise some concerns.
This weekend, Mormons around the world will receive hours and hours of counsel from their church leaders in general conference, which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints convenes twice a year in Salt Lake City and broadcasts around the world.
I look forward to general conference. I study the instruction given there and use portions of it in my own teaching. I think it’s fair to ask myself, how much of it will I obey?
Some people think obedience is a simple thing, very black and white. I used to think that. But what if it’s not?
How much of what I hear in conference — or in other church meetings, or read in the official writings of Church leaders — am I required to obey, as a committed Latter-day Saint? Am I permitted to employ my own reason and inspiration to choose the counsel which applies to me, adapt it to my circumstances, and ignore the rest, or is that too much like selective obedience, which is a lot like disobedience? How nearly does counsel given by church leaders approach the status of scripture? Is counsel the same as commandment?
We speak here in the context of my faith, where we treat scripture as scripture and openly acknowledge not only the possibility but the actuality of divine communication with mortals, and the calling of otherwise ordinary men and women to act and speak as messengers for God.