Jesus in the Wilderness
“Then Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry… The devil then took Jesus up a very high mountain and displayed all the dominions of the world in their magnificence, promising, ‘All these I will give you if you fall down and worship me.’ At this Jesus said, ‘Away with you, Satan! Scripture says, ‘You will worship the Most High God; God alone will you adore.’”
- Matthew 4:1, 8-10a
A common metaphor for the season of Lent is the wilderness. The wilderness is a symbol of struggle, trial, and being lost. This pandemic has been like a wilderness for us. We are enduring struggle and trial. At times we feel so lost, a ship without an anchor, cut off from our in-person gatherings.
What is our God like in the wilderness? Jesus went to the wilderness himself. It was a struggle and he was tested, but he found his way. He faced the wilderness head-on. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke record that the devil offered Jesus control over all the dominions of the world. At a time when Jesus was hungry, this offer to help himself and make his own life easier was incredibly tempting. But Jesus did not accept easy answers for his own comfort. Instead, he followed God on a more difficult road—the road to the cross—to benefit the whole world. He rejected the devil’s offer, giving up an easy path for himself, in order to walk a difficult path that would benefit others.
When we are in the wilderness, we can have hope in Jesus. The Son of God will not abandon us when things are difficult. He will not sit enthroned on high, ignoring the pain of his people. He will walk the wilderness road with us. Jesus will guide us through the wilderness. He leads us on a road like his: one that is not easy for us, but is good for all. Let us follow Jesus through the wilderness, doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with our God.