“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1:9-13
Isn’t this a great moment. Jesus is chosen, marked as special and then thrown out into the wilderness. This would have been a huge moment in Jesus’ life and after he gets the accolades, it’s ripped from him. It’s almost like God was afraid it would go to his head, that he would forget what he was supposed to do, that he would place himself above others instead of living with them.
I wonder if God threw his son out into the wilderness to give him some perspective. Jesus understood what was at stake, he was born for it but God wanted to make sure he was prepared and ready for everything that was to come. This moment is a stepping stone, a place to learn and a trial to pass. It was a necessary piece of the puzzle that helped shape what his ministry was to become.
In some ways it feels to me as though the Christian church has been thrust into the wilderness. We had our moment of glory. The time when it was easy to be Christian and everyone went to Church and now God has said get out there. Go be alone. Figure out who and what you are and then, then we’ll talk.
Jesus persevered. He passed his test. He struggled and came out on top. We will be so persistent? Will we recognize our gifts, our blessings and be able to stand strong in our faith? We will realize the need to fight for people, to share the faith and be willing to move and change as God calls us to?
This is our time of preparation. A time when we are being called face to face before God and must answer the questions that are asked of us. We are given a choice, to surrender to the temptation of the easy road or to embrace a new path few have tried.
After Jesus’ wilderness period he came back into society and became the best teacher the world has ever known. He lived with people. He shared meals and stories. He loved them. He embraced them, faults and all. Our challenge is to live like this. To exit our wilderness period with the same fire and determination to make this world a better place. To encourage people to embrace relationship with God. To help people understand that they matter to us and to our creator.
Imagine what a difference we could make if we chose to see our struggles as a time of preparation and focus. If we could see it as God’s way of ensuring we are ready to move forward into his vision for our faith.
The time in the wilderness changed Jesus. No longer just the son of God, he was now the son of God in action. He became a doer. He became someone who worked for people, who loved them and served them. This is something we need to be as well. We must be people of action.
We are being called out of the wilderness. We are being told we must return to the world and be part of it once more. Are we ready to take those bold steps?