Where do you most often look for God? Maybe its in your living room, or in your bed before you go to sleep? It’s not important where you go, as long as you go. There are times, however, when longer, more focused times are needed. This practice called solitude. Jesus did it too. He can be seen retreating into lonely places, sometimes called the wilderness. Today, in Luke 4, we get to witness this experience as Jesus is called into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.
Why would the Holy Spirit call Jesus to a lonely place? To the wilderness? Doesn’t the wilderness seem like a bad place to be? In the wilderness, we lose our sense of direction, fear is elevated, and attack by a predator is likely. The answer is that he simply followed the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:4). I can tell you that the picture in my head is wrong. I see Jesus as an innocent child being lured into danger by the Holy Spirit. That is totally wrong. Instead, Jesus has one hundred percent trust in the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is leading him with one hundred percent love. The purpose, as Richard Foster so wonderfully puts it is, “so that he could all the more fully enter the divine feast.” Do you hear that? The Holy Spirit is leading Jesus toward a Spiritual Feast. It will not include physical food. No, it will be God only – spiritual food – for the next 40 days.
What would your life look like if you spent 40 days alone, no cell phone, no TV, no internet? 40 days with God. If you don’t know, then we are even. I cannot imagine it either. What I do know is that Jesus comes away full. Not just full, but complete and perfectly equipped to be our Savior. Here is the proof. Think of the physical toll 40 days without food would take. Your body is weak and lethargic. Your mind is starved. Your thinking is slow and dull. The combination of these jeopardizes every action, every decision. The same was true for Jesus. However, instead of giving in to the Devil’s schemes, he drew on his deep well of God’s power to hold fast. Why? Not because Jesus was unable to be deceived. It was because Jesus spent enough time with God to know that nothing, absolutely nothing compared. The Devil was not able to offer him anything better than he already had possession of. Even better, this opportunity sets up Jesus’ ministry. By denying the Devils worldly schemes, ”He intended to demonstrate a new kind of power, a new way of ruling. Serving, suffering, dying — these were Jesus’ messianic forms of power.” (Richard Foster)
As I read the account of Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness and his subsequent temptation, its easiest for me to believe that he was different than me. That i am a mere human and he was God. That belief confronts me with two problems. First it denies Jesus identity as being fully human. Second, it effectively eliminates any responsibility for me to follow the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. That is where I too can “fully enter the divine feast.” Will you go too?
Foster, Richard J.. Streams of Living Water: Celebrating the Great Traditions of Christ. HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.