“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.” (Mark 1:9-13a, NIV)
As we make our transition out of Christmas and into the New Year, I am drawn to the story of Jesus’ life that makes a similar transition. The front end of the Gospels is “The Christmas Section.” But then, aside from one brief mention in Luke 2 about the boy Jesus, we don’t see Him again until He is an adult. After all the Christmas stuff, the next thing we watch is how Jesus gets started in a new thing. In this case, His formal ministry.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Jesus to wait those thirty-some-odd years before He finally got to step forward into His purpose. I suspect in His humanity there may have been some apprehension. But, there also must have been a longing to do what He came for. After all those years of waiting, He finally got to step His dusty feet into the cool Jordan where He was baptized, the heavens burst open and His father says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” He’s finally ready to go.
But, instead of getting to move forward in His ministry, He has to go tangle with the devil for a while. Man, I would find that really frustrating.
You know, one of the most precious parts about the God we serve is that He gave us Jesus as an example (1 Peter 2:21, NIV). Rather than serving a distant, unknowable being, we get a real flesh and blood Savior who “understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT)
In short, we serve a God who “gets it.”
I know there are some of you who set out in 2020 with God speaking something new into your life. You felt Him call you to it, approve of it, and commission you forward. You were super excited to get started, finally stepping into the thing you were meant to do — but then you ran into the devil. And it’s been really, really frustrating.
If this has been your experience, I need you to know Jesus gets it. He knows exactly what it is like to wait years and years to finally get the chance to do something. He knows what it is like to finally feel blessed and approved to move forward. And, He knows exactly what it is like to take that first step and find yourself fighting in the desert instead. It is such a sweet gift that God let us see Jesus facing this type of challenge. But, it is an even greater gift that He also showed us how He got through it — by fighting with God’s Word. (For full verbal sparring match between Jesus and the devil see here, Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)
Scripture is the most powerful weapon you could ever wield against an enemy who seeks to destroy your calling or your progress. Just as Jesus used lines from God’s truth to combat every ridiculous arrow the devil threw at Him, we must do the same if we are to make it through our desert spaces and into the forward progress we desire. The battle will almost always be there. The defeat does not have to be.
Keep fighting desert traveler, He’s with you. He understands where you are and He has every weapon you need because He’s been there. Remember, He wrote the Book.
Used with permission, photo by Nathan McBride on Unsplash