Relationships, Part III
In the Bible, the people of God sometimes find themselves in the wilderness. Think of Elijah in the desert, or Jonah sitting under a bush in the hot sun. Think of the Israelites wandering for 40 years on their way to the Promised Land.
I think we are in a wilderness season of sorts, right now. Normal routines have changed, some of them drastically; and expectations have been turned upside down. None of us have ever been here before, and it’s not always clear where we go next.
This season of Easter is an ideal time to consider Jesus’s own wilderness time.
Scripture: Luke 4:1-11 (NLT)
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry. Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’” Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’" Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
I want you to notice some things about this story. Who led Jesus into the wilderness? The Spirit! Is it possible that the Spirit of God leads us into difficult places? And not to harm us, but to prepare us? These forty days were used by Jesus to prepare for his earthly ministry. And Christ was led there, on purpose, by the Spirit.
What did Jesus do during his stay in the desert? He fasted, and he prayed. Fasting is a discipline or habit that lets us use a physical act to focus on spiritual things. We are in a season of fasting from physical proximity to others. What might be the fruit of this kind of fasting?
What were the devil’s temptations? How did Jesus respond each time?
What are the things that tempt me during this time? Over-indulging? Feeling despair? Anger or resentment? How can we overcome these temptations?
Imagine that our wilderness season is a time to come near to God, as God comes near to us. Even as the Spirit attended to Jesus in the desert, God is with us now.
Ever-present God, who led the Israelites through the desert and who led Jesus our Messiah into the wilderness- lead us now through our own desert time so that we may be found faithful, trusting in you to provide for our every need. Through Christ, our Lord. Amen.