Thursday April 6, 2023
AND NEWS ABOUT HIM SPREAD THROUGH THE WHOLE COUNTRYSIDE
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.
In Genesis 32:28 we read about Jesus’s forefather, Jacob, whose name became Israel: “Then the man said, ‘Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.’”
Jesus, on behalf of Israel, overcomes the enemy and the temptations of evil in the wild. He is pressed on every side, and the adversary has the singular agenda of snuffing Jesus out—by crushing his name, disorienting him from love, and ultimately getting him to take his own life before he offers it for the world.
But Jesus’s inner life proves to be too mature, too beloved, too self-aware, too spiritually resilient, too formed by the deep and steady spiritual practices of his people, to devour.
An encounter with the love of the Father made Jesus impenetrable. Sabbath rest and renewal made Jesus formidable. Daily prayer made Jesus unswayable. Daily Scripture reading made Jesus unconfuseable. Daily songs of worship, rolling in his spirit from the Psalms, the prayer book of his people Israel, made Jesus undistractable.
On the other side of his victory over the enemy’s affront, doing in forty days what Israel could not in forty years, Jesus comes out not only unscathed but also “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). He is full of dynamic, spiritual energy—energy that will be laser-focused on living out the message of Luke 4:18–19 (from Isaiah 61:1–2 and 58:6): “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
It was Jesus’s inner life, built up by an ongoing encounter with the Father reinforced by spiritual habits that were nonnegotiables in Jesus’s life, that enabled him to move into the ultimate of human ministries to undo the works of the evil one (1 John 3:8).
When the enemy faced Jesus in the wild, there was no spiritual sinkhole, no hollow heart, within Jesus to leverage.
When we come out of the wild having faced the enemy and resisted, having faced a test and been found faithful, good news will spread. People will meet a person who has strengthened their own weak knees and quivering heart through a growing, cultivated intimacy with God—and the hearts, homes, churches, and cities around us will be changed.
Do you have spiritual habits that reinforce your daily sense of belovedness, that keep you in the Word and in prayer, and that make you a force to be reckoned with?
Lord of the Wild, we want to become good news in Jesus’s name. Help us establish ourselves in inner habits that prepare us for temptation and equip us to face our challenges. We want nothing less than all of you moving in and through all of us in the world you love. In Jesus’s name, amen.
Songs for the Wilderness
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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