Wednesday April 5, 2023
JESUS RETURNED TO GALILEE IN THE POWER OF THE SPIRIT
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.
Jesus faces down the temptations that Israel could not, the tests of faith that Israel could not, and emerges from his long season of fasting and faith-reinforcing “in the power of the Spirit.”
There is a benefit to being tested, and God knows what we do not. On the other side of a test passed is a pure, glowing, world- bending spiritual resilience.
Let’s talk about spiritual resilience in such times as we live. Resilience speaks of the ability to face an impact and to recover quickly from its force. There is a spiritual elasticity inherent to resilience; we take hits but have the ability for them to bounce off us without damage. In fact, the most resilient and elastic of people can use the momentum with which they’ve been hit and turn its energy back on the enemy.
Jesus comes out of his season of vocational testing knowing whose he is, who he is, and what he is for. I think coming out of the wild “in the power of the Spirit” (v. 14), for you and me, means we have faced down that inner voice of temptation in this round (v. 13) and we have had our faith proved genuine, at the very least, to ourselves (1 Peter 1:6–9).
We will all have many opportunities in the wild, the unpredictable, the surprising circumstances of life, to face down the challenger. Our suffering, our vulnerable places, can be places we enter with our unspoken-name-written-on-a-white-stone (see Rev. 2:17) in our hearts and we do battle with word and Word.
My prayers are with us in the unresolved, and in the battle for our true names in Christ to be lived this side of eternity.
James 4:7–10 can help us for today:
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Here’s to knowing whose we are, who we are, and why we are—as we follow Jesus into the wild.
What is your favorite phrase or verse in James 4:7–10? Why?
Lord, we have come to the place where living “in the power of the Spirit” is both our priority and our desire. Fill us with your Spirit for the challenges ahead, even today, and give us a deepening sense of your abiding presence as we address the enemy’s taunts. 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 email@example.com.
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