Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Three Stories of Desire

It's the word desire that stands out this time.  While reading the Easter story and asking for a fresh perspective, this word leaps off the page three times in the span of two chapters. Perhaps it is because my word for the year is delight and desire is very similar.

I have never caught this or thought about it, but there are three main characters in this dramatic scene that all use this word.  First, Jesus.  Then, Satan.  And lastly, Herod.

We can see this word repeated throughout Luke 22 and 23.

The first mention of the word desire is from our Savior. He had entered the upper room with all twelve disciples, including the one that would soon betray him.  They sat down in order to partake of the Passover meal together.  Jesus looks them in the eyes, probably overwhelmed with his affection for each of his friends and the fact that he would soon be leaving them.  He says to them, "With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer."

Epithumeo.  He longed for this meal with his friends.  He had set his heart upon it.  He needed this last evening with them, in order to prepare their hearts for the reality of what was about to occur.

This is Clarke's commentary on this passage:

"With desire I have desired - A Hebraism for, I have desired most earnestly. Our Lord's meaning seems to be, that, having purposed to redeem a lost world by his blood, he ardently longed for the time in which he was to offer himself up. Such love did the holy Jesus bear to the human race. This eucharistic passover was celebrated once, by way of anticipation, before the bloody sacrifice of the victim of salvation, and before the deliverance it was appointed to commemorate; as the figurative passover had been likewise once celebrated before the going out of Egypt, and the deliverance of God's chosen people."

The second mention of the word desire comes from the mouth of the adversary, Satan.  Only a few verses later, as they are all still reclining at the Passover meal, Jesus turns his attention to Simon Peter.  Jesus is warning Peter about what is going to take place.  "Satan hath desired to have you (Peter) that he may sift you as wheat."  This word desire is exaiteomai which means to demand (for a trial.) It means to claim back for oneself.

But, Jesus wouldn't stand for that.  I love that Jesus has already prayed for Peter, that Peter will turn back to Christ after he has denied him three times. As believers, we can expect to be assaulted by the enemy who desires to destroy our faith.  With joy, we can have the full assurance that it is Jesus who holds us together by His mighty words.

The third mention of the word desire only one chapter over is found in Luke 23:8.  It is from King Herod. It helps to remember that this is the same Herod that paraded the head of John the Baptist on a platter during a banquet. He was an arrogant and evil man who enjoyed using his powers for unjust entertainment and amusement.

Here are Herod's words regarding desire:  "And when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceeding glad; for he was desirous to see him of a long season, because he had heard many things of him; and he hoped to have seen some miracle done by him."

Without any context, it looks like Herod might want to see Jesus in action so that he can believe in him.  After all, the Hebrew word for desirous here is thelo which is to will or wish.  But, as we read further, we see that Jesus denies him any display of miracles. Jesus actually refuses to speak to him at all.  The reason is because Jesus knows Herod's heart only wants to be entertained, not delivered.

Herod proves his motives by providing his own source of vile entertainment when Jesus refuses.  Herod ridicules him and mocks him by putting a royal robe on him and sending him back to Pilate.

{As a side note, the Word tells us that after that moment, Herod and Pilate (who had always hated one another) were made friends.  It was their common hatred of Jesus that gave them this bond. I can't help but think of a leader of our nation who is taking the enemy nation of Iran and making them a friend due to their common hatred of Israel.}

In the span of two chapters, we have seen the word desire used three times.  Each time it has had a different connotation as it has reflected the heart of the one using it.

Jesus desires to eat a last meal with his friends and offer himself up as the final sacrifice.

Satan desires to sift us and strip us of faith.

Herod (or anyone in power who doesn't worship Jesus) desires to ridicule the true King for his own cheap amusement.

What is it that you desire right now?

Right now, I desire a hot shower to settle stressed muscles.  I desire a weekend away with only my Bible, camera, and Redeemer.  I desire a true home that seems so far away.

C.S. Lewis talks about desire and says this:

The Christian says, ‘Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exists. A baby feels hunger: well, there is such a thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well, then; is such a thing as water. Men feel sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same.’

What do you desire this Easter season?  Is it possible that it will only be met in your true country one day?

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