The Grand Inquisitor
It’s called “The Grand Inquisitor.” You can find it at the beginning of Chapter 5 of Dostoevsky’s classic novel, The Brothers Karamazov. I know some of you tried to read this in English class in high school or in your Introduction To World Literature in college. I’d challenge you to take another stab at it, and specifically read “The Grand Inquisitor.” Why? Because it’s a world-class author’s take on the Temptation of Jesus.
Dostoevsky’s piece is placed in the mouth of Ivan, the rational atheist in his story, but ironically Ivan’s story about Jesus showing up in Seville, Spain, during the Inquisition raises some tough questions we should consider today. Why doesn’t Jesus return and simply solve the problem of world hunger? Why doesn’t He seize political power now and force world peace? Why doesn’t He prove His divinity by a media savvy miracle—a miracle that forces everyone to acknowledge His divinity?
Read Luke 4:1-12 presenting Satan’s wilderness temptation of Jesus and then read Dostoevsky’s “The Grand Inquisitor.”
“Now Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan. The Spirit led Him into the wilderness, and for forty days He was tempted by the devil. He did not eat anything during those days, and when they were completed, He was hungry. Now the devil said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, say to this stone, become bread!’ Jesus answered him, ‘It stands written, Man shall not live by bread alone.’ Leading Him up to a high place, in a moment of time, the devil showed Him all the Kingdoms of the world, and said, ‘I will give to you authority over all of this and their glory because it has been handed over to me and I can give it to whoever I desire. Therefore, if you will bow before me, all these things will by yours.’ Jesus said to him, ‘It stands written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only Him.’ And he led him to Jerusalem, stood Him on the pinnacle of the Temple and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself from here. For it stands written, He will command His angels to protect you. They will lift up their hands so that you don’t strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered him, ‘It says, you shall not test the Lord Your God.’
And when the devil finished all this temptation, he departed from Him until a more opportune time.“
LORD, thank you that Jesus shows me that it’s important for me to know an Old Testament book like Deuteronomy. I also need to track the Story in Psalms so that I will know when the devil misuses Your Word. And LORD help me to keep responding to Your Son’s grace and help others to know that it is not in the power of religion with all of its moralism and influence, but in the freedom to decide to accept or reject the gentle touch of the Savior who died and rose again for us.
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