So, it’s Lent and a few things will change on the blog- the next 40 days will be taken up with thankfulness, the usual rambling thoughts on various things and Psalms will be replaced by scenes from Jesus life heading up towards Easter. It’s good to remember the reality of the God of heaven and earth walking down here and seeing crucial events that help us get a hold of what his life, death and resurrection were all about.
We start at the beginning, the moment when God steps in and declares that this man is no ordinary carpenter. Mark sums it up in his usual succinct way:
“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.”
Read over those words and let them soak in. Jesus is baptized. He is one of us. At that moment we’re shown that, yes, he was like us and yet so much more is going on. Heaven is torn open and the Trinity stand on the cusp of something revolutionary. Jesus is God’s Son. He is loved. He is delighted in. The Spirit descends and we wait in baited breath to see what will happen next. Something extraordinary is going on. Jesus’ humanity and divinity hold hands. God has a location in time and space.
What happens now?
Immediately Jesus heads off into the desert to be tempted. The most testing time. Going through all the temptations that are common to man. Sharing with us in the pain and brokenness of this life. Offered the chance to give up on this God who loves him and declares his pleasure in him. All after 40 days with no food in the burning hot desert. After a day without food I’m tired and grumpy and very willing to give up on many things. Imagine 40 days of that. Imagine being offered the easy way out. Jesus knows what that feels like 10 fold. He really does know what we are going through and he stood firm.
Matthew shows us what this temptation involved. (read it here) It’s about power, fame, ultimate control of destiny. The things we all crave. Jesus was offered the short cut to saving the world. He resisted. He stood firm. I have no idea how hard that was, I presume it was very real and very hard. But he did it. For us. For you and me.
Jesus knows what it’s like down here. He knows what it’s like to face temptation. He faced the extreme pressure to give up right from the beginning and he didn’t give in. Right from the start we know that this is no ordinary ‘good teacher’, this is someone special, and yet someone who actively chose not to rule with worldly power but who chose a different route altogether. The world was never to be the same again.
Sit for a moment with Jesus in the desert. Sit and feel the strength of the temptation he was under and see how similar that temptation is to the ones we face each day. To grasp the power for ourselves or to submit to someone greater.
Thank him that he knows what it’s like to face that. Thank him for not giving in and be in awe of the Son with whom God is well pleased.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”