Forty days in the wilderness. Those were a big 40 days… 40 days to undo 40 years of wandering, which in turn were 40 years of judgement for refusing to enter the land where the spies went into for 40 days. I know I have posted on the ‘temptation stories’ before, but they seem to carry such significance.
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness (Mk. 1:12).
The Matthew and Lucan accounts are a little softer with ‘led’ being the verb, but in Mark the verb is ultra-strong. The same verb as is used consistently of ‘casting out’ demons! Two sides of the same coin. Being led to the wilderness usually feels like being ‘cast out’, ‘thrown’ into the wilderness. A dislocation is what is experienced, but behind it all is the gentle (!!) leading of the Spirit.
The wilderness, the abode of demons. The place where demons go to when cast out (‘dry and waterless place’) so that from there they can then go and find a home. They are always looking for a home among humans and within human activity. Jesus goes there, and from time to time we will find ourselves dislocated, vulnerable.
The big picture…
The first temptation is one the two Gospel writers agree on. Economic principles that are not based in creational order. The second two they change the order – religious and political power. The final two are of course what put Jesus on the cross; the compromised religious order ‘prophesying’ that it was better for one to die otherwise the Romans would come and take away their religious privileges, even taking away their Temple. Of course this is exactly what happened with the destruction of the Temple in AD70… (I think the current desire to move in this direction can only end with the same outcome.)
Some people suggest I am biased… I simply say I am writing from a perspective!!! So.
Dislocation. Into the wilderness, led there tenderly / cast out and landing there. The place where the word of the Lord comes (to John) and the place where he stayed. It is one thing to get the word of the Lord in the wilderness, but I think maybe too many have gone from the wilderness to the palace. John stayed there; Jesus went in there.
We have to (corporately, globally, and believers as first fruits of a new Creation) nail the ‘stones into bread’. Get rich schemes. Exploitation of creation, solely extracting and all that follows on from that. A confession: I never want to be without, I have insecurities about all kinds of provision… I am intimidated in the presence of those with resources / money / possessions (cannot call that wealth, as wealth and money are not the same), and one of the jokes the Lord has (divine jokes are normally at our expense, they come to reveal what is in us) is that from time to time I mix with those who are involved in global finance, who have downloads about the shifts taking place. I have pointed out to one of them that I am on a totally different page to them; the response has been ‘that is why I want you here’. That is grace, for truth does not lie in me, nor in ‘them’; truth is elusive and is in the space between us, and it will always remain just a little elusive (a lot elusive!).
Back in 2008 I began to see that there was coming an invention that would ‘recycle everything that cannot be currently recycled’. I have lost sight of that (and related aspects concerning climate crisis) over the past years and lost hope. I have been provoked in recent days to pick this up again, to believe that there will be ‘inventions’, ‘sight’ that will reverse the mess we have created… Maybe, but I think first the economic (‘money makes the world go round and round’) will have to change. Let me put it more strongly it has to change. We might all have a bias, but the simple extraction from creation as if it is ours to do that to has to go. Twenty years of challenge, into this.
If we are serious about the religious giving way to the true knowledge of God… for the boundaries are set so that people might seek after God (so there is something of God that can be found within all kinds of religion, including that of the religion that we have created with Christendom – political power compromised, as Judaism was in the days of Jesus in Jerusalem). ALLLLLL religion has to give way to the true knowledge of God – that only comes through Jesus. If we are serious about a genuine new world order, a city where there is no Temple present, or no Temple to be seen – that is so ironic, with the original Jerusalem Temple occupying something around 20% of the territory, it was what was seen!
Yes the wilderness is where it begins. There is also the top of the Temple and the high mountain that has to be visited. With the attendant temptations to be refused and a return to the wilderness, so that the scene can end with angels (heavens occupants) and wild beasts (the institutions hostile to heaven) all being present.
Wilderness is home for a while to come I guess. Yet provision will be there.