I actually got this Bible reference from when I was a kid!!

And it’s indeed funny that it appeared on an inspirational church placard.  Or maybe it’s just genius viral marketing on the part of a pastor somewhere … think about it.  This thing is really making the rounds on Facebook thanks to its (apparently) unintentional irony.

As many of you know, the words are Satan’s attempt to tempt Jesus to submit to him.  I think they were … standing on a hill?  And Satan was gesturing towards the lights of a city below them?  That’s how I pictured it, anyway.

I might have been six or seven when I first heard this.  I had only a muddy understanding of what divine or terrible powers figures from the Bible were supposed to have … I honestly was afraid that the Devil would produce a knife or sword from his tunic and just kill Jesus.  I had been taught that “Jesus was peaceful,” and I thought it meant he couldn’t fight back in the same way that Batman or the Lone Ranger could.  Yes, I did say “the Lone Ranger.”   The black and white television episodes were still in syndication when I was a little boy.

All my instincts as a boy told me that they SHOULDN’T BE JUST STANDING NEXT TO EACH OTHER.  Or that Jesus should at least have a sword to deflect an attacking blow.

It was one of two Bible stories that scared me as a child.  The other, of course, was the story of Herod and his pogrom against first-born sons.  I had a coloring book from our local Catholic parish, with a two-page spread showing little boys desperately hidden by their mothers throughout a village.  I definitely remember the drawing of a little boy hiding in a basket and peeking out from underneath its lid.  I wished him luck, and wondered where I would hide under the circumstances.

The story of the Great Flood actually did NOT scare me, even though that would have made sense.  All those animals stuffed on a boat was just too whimsical a notion for a little boy to let me meditate on the reasons for their placement there.

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