A scripture has come to me twice recently. Once in conversation and once in a devotion. Some thoughts have come to mind.
“About that time, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. While he was coming up out of the water, Jesus saw heaven splitting open and the spirit, like a dove, coming down on him. And there was a voice from heaven;”You are my son, whom I dearly love; in you I find happiness. At once the Spirit forced Jesus out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among the wild animals, and angels took care of him.”
That is Mark 1:9-13
The first recent encounter with this was through a friend who is a new disciple of Christ. (On Saturday she celebrated the anniversary of accepting Christ) In conversation with another fellow disciple, this person asked or commented something along the lines that it was the Holy Spirit that tempted Jesus. I found this to be an interesting interpretation and just pointed her back to the scripture and explained what I thought it meant but it was a brief dialogue. I almost dismissed it… I have been busy. God brought me back around.
The second time, was in my devotion on Monday. It got me thinking about the big picture presented here. Jesus was just baptized. He was beginning His Ministry. He was fully God and fully human. Perhaps the reason the Spirit forced him out into the wilderness was to prepare him. To help the “Fully human” side of him recognize the “Fully God” side. As humans, we can doubt in our own power and abilities and strength. On top of that, the scripture specifically mentions that he was among wild animals and that angels took care of him. Often the focus of this scripture is on the temptations of Satan, and I wonder if maybe we should consider the wild animals and the angels. Jesus had a battle for things not necessarily physical in his temptation by Satan, but he also had these physical threats present. I think it builds a bigger story and a more relatable story. If Jesus was only faced with the temptations and not thisphysical need, would we be able to relate to him? Think about it, we are all tempted all the time. That is, after all, the primary job of the forces of darkness. If we think about it as “imagery” we are all in a wilderness at one time or another, some of us daily, and we encounter “wild animals” – I know, they aren’t lions and tigers and bears (Oh My!) unless you live in specific parts of the world but there are day to day representations of wild animals… I bet you just thought of at least one. So while Jesus is focusing all of his attention on these temptations, he has to believe that these physical threats are being addressed. He has to rely on the angels – the provision given to him by God… I pity the animal that tangles with an angel! (insert Mr. T’s voice in that last statement)
My point is…well actually, my question is: Did the Spirit force him into the wilderness to help Jesus learn that in the face of his own human-ness he had the ability to rely on His power; to show the human Jesus that “You can do it!” and give the human Jesus the fortitude and confidence and ability to empathize and all the stuff that he would need in order to properly minister to all of us humans who are not also “Fully God?”
My friend who is a new disciple, she has said a few times during her journey this past year that she thought she’d spent her time in the wilderness prior to accepting Christ, but things got even harder at times afterward. The difference being… She accepted Christ and well, she has had more positive than good even in the midst of trials because of her Faith. I think her wilderness experience is her boot camp. I think that once she gets through it…she will be a force for God to be reckoned with.
Please, join me in praying for her journey.