Jesus was alone in the wilderness. And when you’re alone you begin to discover what your true self is. There’s no one there to pull your arm or whisper in your ear. “What do I want,” is all you can say.
In the wilderness, the tempter offered Jesus three powerful choices, all of which required honest self- examination. How would the two great commands, love God and love others, stand up next to food, wealth, and power?
Very early in his life, Jesus was already beginning to test the question. When his parents discovered Jesus was not in their group of people traveling back to Nazareth, they backtracked to Jerusalem and found him in the Temple with the law teachers. “I must be about my father’s business” or “I must be in my father’s house,” was his reply.
Jesus had already done the calculus, and when Satan offered him the trinity of desires, food, lust, and power, Jesus already knew the answer. His love for God transcended every other desire or temptation.
- Live by every word that comes from the mouth of GOD. (Matthew 4:4)
- Do not put the Lord your GOD to the test. (Matthew 4:7)
- Worship the Lord your GOD and serve only him. (Matthew 4:10)
In the Old and New Testaments, we are told that when everything in Scripture is boiled down to its essence, you end up with two commands–love God and love your fellow man. This works like a big database filter that eliminates poor options. Love God or seek power?
Anyone who takes the wilderness seriously, sees life in clarity not seen elsewhere. Outside, in the rushing of the world, there are a thousand choices or distractions. What job should I take? How will I make financial ends meet? What school should my child go to? Do I want to be his friend? What is the speed limit?
The answer to all those questions is most often, “I want what pleases me.” “I want the most money.” “I want the school for my child that will make me look good.” Outside is a cul-de-sac of choices that end up in the same place. But in the wilderness there is only me, God, and three choices: human appetite, human greed, and human power.
What do you want?
Dear Jesus, you courageously entered the wilderness, led by the Spirit, and facing the neon choices that the tempter brought you. True to your nature, you kept your focus and attention on your Father and His will for you. Such is the way we should go and we ask you to lead us. We will follow you only. Amen.