Lenten reflections 2012: Retreating into the wilderness with Jesus, Day 4

#4. Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012

We saw in the scriptures, yesterday, that wilderness is integral to the spiritual life of believers. It works like a furnace to refine us and to make us stronger Christians. Keeping with the long tradition of the Old Testament, Jesus, too, was led into the wilderness experience. We need to be clear though that it was not the devil but the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. All three gospel writers are quick to point out this fact (read Matthew 3:16, 4:1, Mark 1:10-12, Luke 3: 21-22, 4:1-2). It teaches us that God permits suffering and pain in our lives for a purpose.

Jesus being fully God did not need penitence. He did not need to repent of any sins, as He was completely sinless even when he was completely human in His earthly days. Even though Jesus was sinless, God the Holy Spirit led God the Son to experience wilderness in order that He will be completely dependent on God the Father. Thus, the triune God was involved in the  wilderness experience of Jesus Christ because it was so significant for the salvation of humanity. That’s why we read in the book of Hebrews 5: 8—“Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (KJV). Through Christ’s suffering which began in the wilderness and continued throughout his life until his painful death on the cross, He completely identified with us human beings. Therefore, He fully understands whatever your wilderness experience may be today—be it pain, sickness, death of a loved one, financial crisis, uncertain future, concern for your loved ones, unemployment, underemployment, insecurity, misunderstandings, marriage on the rocks, and so on. Whatever it may be, Jesus Christ, our Lord knows and understands it fully because He has been in the wilderness Himself. He knows what you are going through today; He knows that God has permitted this time in your life. But He also knows that God is omnipotent to bring you through it and through this experience, make you a better vessel suited for His purposes. Once again, the book of Hebrews says in 4:14-16:

“Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (New Revised Version). Amen.

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