March 5

Luke 4:1-8

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.” vss. 1-2a

Following his life-changing experience with the Divine after his baptism, Jesus didn’t immediately begin his ministry. For one thing, he probably didn’t have a clear idea of what that mission would entail–there were no job descriptions for the work of a Messiah, just a few assorted references in the scriptures–all lacking details. Without direction he followed the impulses of the Spirit that had captured him at the river and headed off into the mountainous maze of gulches and ravines that lay to the west. It’s a parched treeless territory, a place where, according to popular belief, the demons made their home. There, like some prophets before him, Jesus sorted out his options, what Luke calls temptations. Each seemed to reveal a kind of internal doubt: was his experience authentic? Was he really the beloved Son of God? Those thoughts are common to any person of faith. Does my baptism really make a difference? Or, more basically, is God real? Such wrestling is a part of the faith journey, a wondering that is essential to developing strong convictions. It’s no fun to hang out with demons, but we are still led to do it! The song “Borning Cry” puts it well: after receiving faith, “in a blaze of light (we) wander off to find where demons dwell.” The good news is that this is the work of the Spirit, and we are never alone.

Thought for the Day: What was my wilderness like?

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