that morning, I saw Jesus coming out of the tent where we, the Galileans,
spent the night. He took his walking stick and began to walk alone,
away from the river toward the desert of Judah. Then, he suddenly disappeared....
Jesus: Lord, what do you want from me? What do you expect of
me? Speak to me, that I may overcome this fear and respond to you!...
Speak to me, Lord!...
But he heard other voices inside him....
Voice: What is it that you want, Jesus? One year has passed,
and another year, yet, you havenít decided on anything. Listen to me,
son. Forget about your dreams and be realistic. You are thirty, and
it is high time you put your feet on the ground....
Voice: Ah, some
crazy men! They dream of prophets and signs from God when they can stay
and enjoy the good life! Cheer up, Nazarene! I have very good wine for
you, and some women....! There is none of this stuff in your town.
Voice: Iím serious, Jesus. Anyone can be the Messiah. Why not?
John says he is in our midst. It could be this bald man, or that skinny
one, or... or, you, Jesus. You can be the Liberator of Israel!...
Jesus continued walking through the desert. He climbed the hills, descended
through them, and passed through the mountainside. When evening came
he lay flat on the sand, his face looking up to the sky, as if waiting
for an answer...
Jesus: Lord, what do you want from me?.... What can I do for
my people?.. John is a prophet, and he can speak.... but I....I.....
How many days have passed?... How long could someone, stricken by hunger
and thirst, survive? Nothing. Not even a sign of life, nor a drop of
water could be seen anywhere... Jesus, his lips parched and bluish,
sat on a rock. He felt the blazing sun above his head, and became dizzy.
Then he remembered nothing. He rolled over on the sand and was lost
in deep sleep....
Devil: Tsssk.... tsssk..... Poor guy! Why did you come here
without any food at all? You donít even have a camel! Do you know that
only beetles and lizards inhabit this desert?
Jesus: Who are you?
Devil: It doesnít really matter. Let us say that Iím a dream...
Jesus: Bah, then I donít see any need of you...
Devil: Donít say that... Sometimes, dreams can be
more real than reality itself... You poor guy! You fainted because of
hunger and exhaustion... I will help you. But first, you gotta tell
me clearly... Why did you come here?
Jesus: I am looking for God. I need Him to speak to me and show
me the road I ought to follow...
Devil: There are no roads in the desert. Not even in life. One
makes a road with a bit of luck and a little ambition. I can be of help
to you, Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus: How did you know my name?
Devil: Only a few come here, so itís easy to know who is who.
Jesus: And whatís your name?
Devil: Donít worry about that... Listen to me... I can give
you good advice. Listen: Do you know that cats have seven lives, while
crocodiles have four? How many lives have you got, poor man?
Jesus: Only one.., of course.
Devil: Then, enjoy it, my friend!... Why go look for a road?
This is what most men and women take, and they like it.
Jesus: What must I do in order to enjoy life?
Devil: First, you must not think a lot. Thinking makes you sad.
Jesus: Thatís easier said than done... What about our country?
Thereís so much injustice to correct. How can I stop thinking of these
Devil: They are nothing but the idealism of youth. With or without
you, life will go on. Two thousand years will pass and the poor will
continue to be poor, and the rich will become richer. The same abuses
of the past will be committed again tomorrow.
Jesus: Perhaps you are right, but...
Devil: Listen to me, Jesus of Nazareth. Look at this rock....
Imagine this rock to be a piece of bread, a recently baked piece of
bread... Oh, my good friend: to eat it is the first rule to enjoy life...
Jesus: Man does not live by bread alone...
Devil: Of course not! You need good food for the stomach, good
wine to drink and nice women to go to bed with!
Jesus: What about the word of God? People live by the word of
the Lord too.
Devil: Uff, forget about God. God has his own problems in heaven,
while you have yours on earth. Do you know what you really need? Money!....
Money, my friend, is the key to happiness. You can buy everything with
money. Listen to me: If you have a lot of money, then youíll enjoy a
comfortable life and be happy.
Jesus: But, where am I gonna get such an abundance of money?
Itís not easy to be rich.
Devil: For you, it is. You have a knack for business. Iím sure
that if you transfer to Jerusalem and start business there, like putting
up a small lending shop, or textile trading.... You will progress, young
man. You can convert stones into bread, and bread into money, and money
can give you anything! Enjoy life and donít think of.... So, you decide...
what else are you waiting for?
Jesus: I donít know, but... I am looking for... If I have money,
lifeís luxury and security... then what?
Devil: Now, I realize, young man, that youíre not like the rest
who simply want to make money and be happy. You want something more
than this. You want to dominate the world be at the helm of the ship!....
Am I right?
Jesus: I donít understand you.
Devil: Give me your hand and come with me.....
Jesus: Where will you take me?
Devil: Look, I want you to observe from this mountain. From
here, you can choose well. Take a look at all the kingdoms and governments
in this world: Jerusalem, Egypt, Babylon... Athens... Rome... Which
do you like most?
Jesus: What are you talking about?
Devil: You can be the lord of any of these empires, if you wish....
Or, if you are more ambitious, like Alexander the Great, you can rule
the entire world.
Jesus: Thatís impossible. Iím only a peasant who wears a pair
of broken sandals... I donít even have a piece of land to own, and here
you are talking about my being the lord or master of....
Devil: Everything is a matter of wanting it. Little by little
youíll be scaling the ladder of power.
Think about it, young man: politics is the art of stepping on
the foot of someone at the lowest rung of the ladder.
Jesus: That is exactly where I am: at the lowest rung of the
ladder. Whose foot am I gonna step on? What must I do to go up?
Devil: I will help you. Trust me.
Jesus: Tell me, please. Who are you?
Devil: I am the lust for power that is hiding in your soul,
Jesus. You donít just aspire for money and other luxuries, because you
want to rule and have power over others. That is natural. Look!... A
person wages war against a neighbor, and will win, for sure, because
of ambition. A person already has hundreds of thousands of people in
subservience and will have more who will obey, and serve.
Jesus: I donít know, but... I prefer to serve than be served.
Devil: You are a dreamer, Jesus. Tell me, whom do you want to
Jesus: The Lord... and my country, Israel....
Devil: Oh, I understand. I should have known that before. You
are even prouder than I thought. Now, letís be clear on this, Jesus
of Nazareth: you want to be the Messiah that all Jews have been waiting
for, for many centuries... Hey, donít put on that face... You know damn
well what Iím talking about. Money is easy. Power is likewise boring,
I know, and you aspire for something special, like being the Messiah
of Israel, the Savior of the World. You want to be remembered through
the centuries, written about by entire libraries, and you wish to have
several followers, with a very powerful organization of course...
Jesus: How can you talk that way to me. I have never thought
anything of that sort...
Devil: Come. You will need a good starter for your career, do
you understand?.... Let us go to Jerusalem, to the Temple, to the pinnacle
of the walls...
Jesus: Leave me alone, I donít wanna go with you. Let go!...
Devil: Look.... 400 cubits high!... Look down... and look at
those people... Everyone has come to see the miracle.
Jesus: What miracle?
Devil: Yours! Close your eyes, and jump from here.
Jesus: Are you crazy? I would kill myself!
Devil: Of course not! I will stay down and see to it that you
donít step on even one stone. Trust in me.
Jesus: What good will that do for me?
Devil: That would be the first miracle. Then people will come,
and they will applaud you. And you will ask: Whom are you looking for?
Are you looking for the Messiah? for the Liberator?
I am he! And everyone shall kneel before you and you will be great.
You will be known all over the world!
Devil: No more buts. Donít think anymore. Donít you hear the
people waiting for you? Come on, jump!
I will take care of the rest!
Jesus: Wait a minute... This is tempting God. You are not to
tempt the Lord.
Devil: God! God! Will you let God out of this, you idiot!
Jesus: You leave me alone too! Go away! Go away!
Devil: Iím sorry for you, Jesus of Nazareth! You are taking
the wrong road, fellow. Alright, you hardheaded one. You will regret
having ignored me. Anyway, we shall still meet. So long!
Jesus: Tell me who you are.... Who are you? What is your name?
Cameleer: My name is Nasim and I am a Samaritan. I am taking this
road to get me to Jericho...
An old cameleer was passing through the place, and when he saw Jesus
lying down on the sand, he approached him and helped him.
Cameleer: Who are you? ...Did you lose your camel? Were you held
up by bandits? ...You know, brother, this place is treacherous. Even
the devil trembles when he crosses through. You were shouting and I
came near to see what was happening... Come.... uff! thatís alright
now... You are almost dead, brother... Here, drink this goatís milk...
and let us go, for it is still a long way from here to Jericho... Hoaa...
Camel.... Letís go...!
For how many days did Jesus stay in that gray and barren mountain? I
would not know. In the desert, God put his people to test for forty
years. Even Elijah crossed the desert, and for forty days and forty
nights he waited to see the face of God. John the Baptist learned how
to shout in that desolate place, proclaiming the coming of the Liberator