The First 15

Monday February 20, 2023

by Thomas Mitchell

Scripture Reading

Luke 4:1-14

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you
to guard you carefully;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.


When the Father calls you by name, there is always a threefold challenge that follows– a challenge to your identity, a challenge to your belovedness, and a challenge to your purpose. That challenge comes from a specific spiritual foe who is the embodiment of evil, an enemy whose singular goal is to get you lost in the wilderness– lost about who you are (your identity), whose you are (your belovedness), and what you are for (your purpose).

When we look back over the course of our lives we can remember times when the going got tough and the whisper entered our ear: if you are precious to God, then why is this happening to you?

In suffering, despair, and affliction, the “if” seems to ring louder than all the worship songs we’ve ever sung.

The battle to get us to look back begins the day we first embrace our identity, our belovedness, our purpose, our vocation– first spoken to us by the Father. As soon as love floods our soul and we say yes to God, there is an enemy lurking in the background, waiting for an “opportune time” (Luke 4:13) to woo us away.

When are these opportune times? Moments of vulnerability, insecurity, pain, success, failure, insufficiency, pride, unbelief, confusion, despair, lust, greed, or revenge.

And if we let the enemy, the one the Bible calls “the satan”- meaning, “the adversary”- draw us away from our true name before God, we will go down a slow track of confusion, disorientation, and even self-hatred and self-destruction.

Luke 4:1-14 tells the story of Jesus in the wilderness. You may have heard sermons or teachings on the passage. You may have spent time in study and reflection on what it means for Jesus to have been the one to pass on this story to his disciples. After all, no one else was with Jesus in the desert to record it.

The story of Jesus in the wilderness– or Jesus in the “wild” (the untamed places where life tumbles into life along our journey)– is all about vocation. Vocation is what we speak of as a “calling.” How we receive our calling, embrace our calling, and fulfill that calling is the vital truth that sits at the center of the journey ahead of us.

What happened between when Jesus was blessed and called into his vocation at his baptism and when Jesus launched into the fullness of his ministry in Luke 4:14-21? What happened between the naming and the doing, the calling and the ministry? What happened was the wild. And what happens in the wild is what determines the telos (end goal) of your life and mine.

Through the Lenten season, we’ll be sharing in a lengthy meditation on Luke 4:1-14. I’d like to invite you to meditate on this one story for this entire season. Each day we will focus on one word or phrase within these fourteen powerful verses. Our meditation will center on the biblical idea of vocation– what it means to be called by God to a purpose– and then to stay with that purpose through the difficult days and dark nights. This was Jesus’ model for us.

Our vocation, a divine treasure given to each of us from birth and originating in creation itself, is an invitation to be something who does something in the world. Being leads to becoming leads to doing.

Jesus knew who he was (being), who he was formed to be for the future of humankind (becoming), and what he was to accomplish in the world his Father loves (doing).

And that leads us to the story of Jesus in the wild.

The wilderness, according to the Bible, is the eremos– it speaks of a place of isolation, separation, and encounter. But, what was the experience Jesus had?

He was tested– by way of three temptations from the devil. If that idea is difficult for you, consider the tests of faith, devotion, courage, and obedience presented to those throughout scripture who loved God and were “called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28). We must welcome the idea that God tests people in ways that reveal what is happening. and what is true, inside us. Our hearts are proved true and faith revealed genuine (1 Pet. 1:7) in times of difficulty.

God allows us to be tested for our good. The enemy, however, tempts us for our destruction. The two experiences can look similar, but the purpose and outcome of each is very different. One to build up, one to tear down.

The journey ahead of us is to reclaim our calling– to learn from our own wilderness and to lean again into the voice of God who names us as Beloved. I would encourage you to have a journal open and ready each day as you read. Note words and phrases that are meaningful to you. Trust that your journaling will provide a written record you invested your heart into this season and addressed the voices of the enemy that were challenging you in your own vocation before God.

Have you experienced the wild in recent weeks? If so, how has the unpredictability, the lack of control you’ve felt, revealed where your faith is really at?

Closing Prayer

Lord of the Wild, we sense the possibility that is in store for us if we take this season to walk with you into the revelation that awaits us in the story of your testing in the wilderness. Open our hearts to hear your Spirit’s voice, to be led by the Spirit into an encounter with you that ends in your love and power being more fully manifest in our lives and in a new clarity of our vocation in you. In Jesus’s name, amen.

Songs for the Wilderness

Today we will sing “In the Wilderness” by Rachel Morley which you can find here. Subscribe to our Spotify playlist featuring all of our Songs for the Wilderness here.

First 15 through the season of Lent is adapted from Jesus in the Wild: Lessons of Calling for Life in the World available through Seedbed. If you or your small group are interested in using this resource for your Lenten study, you can find more information here or send an email to

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