After his baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness—so that he would be tempted. This pen and ink drawing by contemporary artist Daniel Bonnell is a spare depiction in dark and light of the desert place, bare and dry. The emptiness draws our attention to the two animal figures present with Jesus: the snake—the tempter who will lead Jesus to questions of self-preservation, prestige, and power—and the bird—the divine messenger, the Holy Spirit who descended on Jesus at his baptism and now journeys with him through his time of trials. What lies in the distance? The tomb? The gateway to new life? Daniel Bonnell has said that his paintings and drawings emerge from his own active process of contemplation and take on their own contemplative life. Take a few minutes to read Matthew’s account of the temptation of Jesus, and then rest prayerfully with Bonnell’s drawing. Offer the thoughts and prayers that rise in your heart and mind to God.
The Holy Gospel Matthew 4:1-11
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ But he answered, ‘It is written, “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’ Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
“He will command his angels concerning you”, and “On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’ Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’ Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
“Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”’ Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.
The Temptation of Jesus in the Desert
Daniel Bonnell (2014)
Pen and Ink