The Grand Inquisitor by Dostoevsky: The Three Temptations
The Grand inquisitor tells the story of Christ coming back at a time of inquisition. In this story, Christ is arrested and sentenced to death by burning. Before his death, a grand inquisitor calls by Christ’s cell to explain why His actions are intrusive to the church. To point his finger at Jesus, the inquisitor illustrates his points by using the three temptations that Jesus faced. These parables include the bread temptation the kingdom temptation and the pinnacle temptations. The three parables were significant for Christ‘s mission. Centuries after Christ died; these three parables still hold value in our lives.
This parable illustrates that man cannot live by material things only. This was the first temptation that Christ faced. He had been hungry for days so Satan offered him a stone and asked Christ to turn it into bread. However, Christ rebuked him by saying that man cannot live by bread alone. Similarly, people are doing everything in their power to earn more money, build bigger homes and wear the best. In life, we need more than this to live happily. “But seest Thou these stones in this parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread”. The grand inquisitor blamed Jesus for not taking the bread. In his opinion, Christ should have offered man liberty from starvation instead of liberty from choice.
The kingdom’s temptation illustrates the significance of believing in God instead of tempting Him. In his second test, Satan asked Jesus to throw Himself from a pinnacle to prove that He was the messiah. If he were real then the angels would pick Him up. Jesus rebuked Satan and told him not to tempt God. “But Thou didst refuse and wouldst not cast Thyself down. Oh, of course, Thou didst proudly and well, like God; but the weak, unruly race of men, are they gods? Oh, Thou didst know then that in taking one step, in making one movement to cast Thyself down, Thou wouldst be tempting God and have lost all Thy faith in Him, and wouldst have been dashed to pieces against that earth which Thou didst come to save”. The grand inquisitor thought Christ should have given people a miracle to show them there was a supreme power.
The last temptation illustrates the power and authority of God. Satan tried Jesus one last time after he had failed twice. The devil displayed all the kingdoms of the world to Christ and told him He could have authority over it. His only condition was that Christ should bow down and worship Him. Christ rebuked Satan for the third time and refused to bow down. This parable is significant to illustrate submission to God and His power. “For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity”. The grand inquisitor thinks that Christ was wrong when he refused to take power.
All the parables are significant; they illustrate the importance of choosing wisely, as Jesus did. Although Christ was hungry, He knew bread was not the key for his survival. It is important to choose wisely instead of selling our values and beliefs for things that do not last.