Wednesday February 22, 2023
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.
To be full of the Holy Spirit means we are full of the loving, manifest presence of God.
Who is the Holy Spirit, the one whom Jesus is full of as he goes away from the Jordan of his baptism?
The Holy Spirit is the presence of God; in fact, according to Genesis 1:2, the very energizing, life-giving breath of God. The Nicene Creed calls the Holy Spirit “the Lord, the giver of life.” Jesus is full, satisfied, content with, sustained by the Holy Spirit as he goes into the wilderness.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with this. I have been satisfied by food. I have been satisfied by drink. I have been satisfied by relationships (in special moments), family laughter (in special moments), and even in vocational roles where I felt my calling was meeting, in some deep way, the needs of the world.
When Frederick Buechner, wrote about vocation, he said:
It comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a person is called to by God.There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Super-ego, or Self-Interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is this. The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done. . . . The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
But this is important for us to say here, because it has tremendous pastoral implications for us as followers of Jesus. In this baptism, Jesus received his business card: Beloved Son, pleasing to the Father before he even does one thing. But as Jesus is going into the wild where he will wrestle with the deepest questions of self-worth, purpose, and calling, the Bible does not say, “Jesus, full of satisfaction that he has a clear calling from God.”
No. Jesus is not full of self-actualization, or even the gift of a clear word from the Father as to what he is to do with his life.
Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit, meaning he is full of the loving, manifest presence of God.
Jesus was so full of the Holy Spirit that even if he didn’t do anything that we would call missional, or ministry, or helpful to others, he would still have been full, satisfied, sustained by the presence of God. He was a beloved Son; that was his core vocation. At any given moment, he could have died— having fulfilled his calling.
Living in belovedness is fulfilling your calling, your vocation, in God. It will never be more complicated than that.
Have you ever thought you were right in the middle of your calling, what you might even call your vocation, and had whatever that platform was disappear in the blink of an eye? Maybe you were in a ministry role you felt good about, and perhaps even others respected you for your work. Then, a change happened, an unplanned circumstance came about, or someone made a decision that removed you from that role. Many Christians I know have gone into a tailspin at that point, so connected to their ministry that they practically fall away from God (and become mean to others) because their ministry disappeared.
When your name and Beloved Son or Beloved Daughter is all you have on your business card, then you are full of the Holy Spirit and ready to do, or not to do, anything that pleases the Father. (Remember the words of the Wesley Covenant Prayer.) God didn’t call you or me to put a ministry on our spiritual business card. All he wants is our name on that card so he can say, “(insert your name), I need you here now,” or “(insert your name), I need you here now, and not there,” and we quickly obey. Whether we have a platform or not, we remain God’s beloved child.
Jesus was full of the presence of God, the breath of God, going into the wild. We must be as well. Our vocation, our calling, is our sonship and daughterhood—not the tasks we do or the talents we have. We must get this right. Jesus did; the biggest questions of calling in his heart had already been answered, and they had nothing to do with how impressive his résumé looked, or didn’t look, at the time.
Have you ever experienced a time where you found your identity in a ministry you were a part of or a role you filled? Was it ever taken away, and if so, how did you respond?
Lord of the Wild, our hearts are easily led to put our sense of self-worth and value in what we do to love and minister to others. We see now that until we have answered the belovedness question, with you, before we even step onto a field of ministry or service, we are vulnerable to the enemy confusing our calling. Our calling, our vocation, is to be your beloved child. Everything else, we are indifferent to. Use us as you will. 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.
The First 15
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