At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Jesus Calls His First Disciples Mark 1:12-1

How could Jesus be so sure of His message, “God is here?” He had seen it, felt it, heard it, tasted it, experienced it in the worst possible environment. He has been cushioned and cocooned in the Father’s presence for forty days; heat, cold, hunger, thirst, rocks, cliffs, scorpions, snakes, spiders, prowling wild beasts – any one of these could have taken Him out – and He had to trust, lean on, hold on to the Father until He was perfectly at peace in the midst of all this. He had to move from enduring to embracing and enjoying His wilderness experience because it meant total reliance on the Father.

This was Jesus’ first “Gethsemane” experience and it prepared Him to run the gauntlet of life out there in the jungle of humanity. He had to learn to recognise and rebuff every alien voice until only the Father’s voice was clearly recognisable. “Although He was a son, He learned obedience from what He suffered…” (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus was not proclaiming a theory: He was declaring a personal, powerful, practical reality. “God is here!” He was offering to His people the renewal of the experience as a “here and now” God. For 400 years they thought He had left them. Jesus wasn’t saying, “God is back.” He was saying, “God is here.” He was rekindling the awareness in them that God was always there, with them; but they had lost that awareness.

How can I offer that same awareness to people out there? And more so, to God’s people who struggle in their own “wilderness” experiences? First – I have to know it for myself, not just an intellectual assent to what is written in the Word, but a knowing that comes from leaning and listening to the one who is closer than my breath, the one who envelops me, surrounds me, saturates me and undergirds me until I am more sure and more secure in Him that in my own environment. I need my own wilderness. 6

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Luella Campbell

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