Jesus, 40 Days in the Desert, and the Ego

by Joshua Tilghman on July 5, 2012

Today I have a special revelation for all my blog readers. In our last article, we discussed why the author of Hebrews encourages Christians to leave the doctrines of Christ (exoteric or outer teachings) and go on to maturity realizing the inner (esoteric) teachings of Christ. We also stated that when a Christian reaches this level of maturity, it is more important to realize what Jesus represents instead of focusing on who he was. Ultimately, the author of Hebrews wanted to teach his disciples a much more advanced set of teachings that were not anchored to the literal interpretation of the Biblical text. In today’s blog post I am going to focus on what Jesus should represent by going over the story of Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the desert.

First let’s look at the number 40. Its frequent use in the major Biblical stories shows us how significant it is. Here’s a quick list:

  • 40 days and nights of rain during the flood of Noah
  • 40 days after flood Noah opened door to ark
  • 40 years the children of Israel wondered in the desert
  • Moses was in Egypt (ego, flesh) 40 years, Midian 40 years, and then in the desert 40 years.
  • Moses was on mountain for 40 days and 40 nights
  • Solomon reigned 40 years
  • Jonah said it would be 40 days until Nineveh would be destroyed

There are literally hundreds more verses that involve the number 40, but this short list should suffice to show you how important it is. So what does 40 represent?

Many commentaries and religious leaders can tell you that 40 represents a time of testing and trial. But what they might not explain is that on the grand scale 40 represents the experience of spirit in the physical body. So the number 40 doesn’t represent different trials you might face in life so much as it represents the testing and trial of your physical life as a whole!

As you already know, the average gestation period of a baby in the womb is 40 weeks (, a further confirmation that the number 40 in the Bible is symbolic of a physical lifespan.

Sow how does all this relate to Jesus’ 40-day sojourn in the desert to confront Satan? In the literal story, we see this as an individual trial in the many trails Jesus experienced. But in the grander scheme Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the desert exemplifies what every human has to go through in a lifetime to evolve on the path to Christ consciousness.

Satan confronts Jesus with three major temptations. If we look closely, we discover that this story is about Jesus confronting his ego, and from an esoteric standpoint, this story represents what you have to do to confront your own ego!

Let’s look at the first temptation:

“And when the tempter (Satan / Ego) came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he (Jesus) answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:3-4).

Our ego always compromises the truth by masking true reality for the grand illusion; in essence, the ego is the anchor to the physical perspective. But Jesus overcomes this perspective. He tells Satan that man does not live by bread alone (physical existence), but by every word from the mouth of God (spirit). In fact since Jesus denies the bread completely, we understand that ultimate truth lies beyond the veil of the physical realm and instead resides in the spiritual realm, or the realm of consciousness that operates beyond this 3D physical experience.

But as the next few verses reveal, the ego will never quit here. If it did, the path to enlightenment would be a lot easier. Now Jesus has to deal with the ego on the next level.

“Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And said unto him, If thou be the son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee…Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:5-7).

Remember, Jesus is on the path to higher consciousness, and it is never enough to have knowledge of our egos and the spiritual realm. Jesus’ ego returns through the back door and tempts his humility. But Jesus continues to surrender his ego. In this way Jesus uses the ego as a springboard to higher consciousness. The key is surrender. Let go, let love. Jesus doesn’t have anything to prove. Many people who begin the narrow path get stumped by their ego because they cannot remain humble once they have a higher knowledge of the physical and spiritual world. This second initiation can only be realized by learning to deal with our complex range of desires and emotions which are good at controlling us when we least expect or realize it. Jesus has mastered this. Remember, our desires and emotions are another part of our ego that furthers to anchor us in the lower planes of consciousness, and usually negative emotions are implanted into our subconscious by the ego itself.

After this temptation Christ has one more major test that we all must go through on the path to Christ consciousness. In a last desperate attempt of the ego to shake the foundations of Jesus’ detachment to the physical world, the ego unleashes its greatest temptation by offering to give Jesus anything he desires:

“Again the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

Jesus’ ego makes a last desperate attempt to embrace desire and fail the entire initiation process. But Jesus so completely overcomes desire that he remains detached from all that this world has to offer! This is the way of the master! Remember, we are sojourners on this earth. We should be looking for a heavenly city. Attachment to this world and what this world offers keeps us anchored to the process of life and death in the 3D world.

So ultimately Jesus in this story represents the Christ in each of us that has the power to defeat the ego!

In conclusion, I want you to think about the fact that Jesus spent 40 days in the dessert. This is a long time for introspection. The ego would be at its greatest in such a situation. During this time, Jesus was involved in some serious meditation. The entire process of Jesus defeating Satan is about surrendering oneself in meditation so that you can see the ego for what it really is.

Our next blog post will discuss what Paul means when he states that a true Jew is one “inwardly.” As we’ll see, the institutional church has missed the fact that a true Jew (spiritual person) practices meditation to help catapult them into the higher realms of consciousness!

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