Practical Proverbial, from Mark, 1 October 2014

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. – Mark 1, verses 12-13

“At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness,” not ‘after Jesus was baptized’ or ‘when Jesus was done eating that afternoon, or ‘later that week.’   It happened at once, immediately after Jesus’ baptism.   When Jesus was walking out of the water and the crowd around Him was amazed at hearing the voice of The Father speaking to Jesus, Jesus felt the Holy Spirit – His Spirit – urge Him to depart and walk deeper into the desert.

Important things can’t wait.

If you do that today, you’re called impulsive.   One time, my wife and I were going through a tough time.  Personally, financially, emotionally, spiritually, even in our friendships, everything was tough.   One day in late October, we were watching a Tennessee football game on TV when I said “would you like to move to Tennessee and start over?”   Never pose such a question to a desperate woman unless you really, really mean it.   I did and she was.   By late December we were in Tennessee; by later in December we were on our way back home to Colorado because we couldn’t find an affordable place to live.

It was important and we felt it couldn’t wait.   But it could.   What we couldn’t (wouldn’t, actually) see at the time was that the important matter wasn’t running away from our problems but, instead, facing them.

Jesus didn’t have sin but He did have problems.  After being baptized, he went into the desert and lived for forty days.   No food, no water, no people, no bed to sleep in, no shelter: ONLY God’s provision.   He fasted, He prayed, He cried out, He wept, He talked to Himself.   At the end of it, when Jesus was tired, very hungry, and at His most vulnerable, His biggest problem showed up. Mind you, Satan hadn’t always been a problem. At one point, Lucifer was a trusted angel, one of God’s brightest creations.   Yet those days were history.   Now, evil incarnate presented himself to the Son of Man and tempted Him at His weakest points.    Satan had important business with the Lord and it couldn’t wait.

Mark doesn’t say what happened while Jesus was being tempted; go to Matthew and Luke for that.   All he tells us is all we need to know.   The Spirit led Jesus into the desert to tempt Him; to serve as an example to us and to put Satan on notice that his defeat was pending.   Jesus was tempted by the devil himself, not by some bush-league imp or personal demon but by the original author of evil himself.   Jesus overcame all this and was then fed and nursed back to health by angels. And Jesus returned to do the most important thing of all.

It wasn’t like going to Tennessee.   There, at least we had good weather, a hotel room, and hot food to eat even if we didn’t find an home. Looking back on it, I have learned that, had we trusted in God to provide all we need, perhaps the trip to Nashville wouldn’t have been necessary.   We had lost our way.   For the good of all involved, God led us in a different direction in important things.   He can do that for you too.

Lord, lead me not into temptation but deliver me from evil today.

Read about what happened in the desert in Matthew 4 and Luke 4

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