It’s January 8, 2016, and the new year has seen it’s first week go down in history. The big news is the market, which is also down, plunging 392 points. It’ll bounce back, right? Should I be worried? Is it time to liquidate and fill my mattress with cash? I don’t know if Palestine had a version of Wall Street. If so, would Jesus have invested in the market? And if the market plunged, would he be worried?
After his baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the desert; not Jerusalem or the nearest synagogue, but the desert. Did he go camping with marshmallows and hot dogs? Or was it a retreat for solitude, with quiet reflection and meditation? No, his desert experience was far more challenging. He took no food or water, there wasn’t a tent, a gas lantern, or an air mattress. Were there blankets and a pillow? Evidently he relied only on the sandals he wore and the faith he owned. This would be a test, a true trust experience in the Judean desert.
After forty days, he was severely depleted; and that’s when it got really hard, that’s when the attacks started. Not with weapons of wood and steel, but the weapons of hell: pride, pleasure, and compromise. He was tempted by the body’s need for sustenance. He was tempted to test his Father. He would be tempted by the pleasures of wealth, power, and royal splendor. In the desert, he experienced real emptiness, poverty, and helplessness. Knocking at death’s door, maybe, just maybe, Jesus was ready to embrace demonic enticements. Satan was counting on it.
But he didn’t. He worked through it, kept his integrity, and didn’t plunge himself into ruin; he chose the Father over self. I imagine him gaunt, with a blistering sunburn, cracked lips, and an unsteady stance. But he didn’t give up, give out or give in. Because of his victory in the desert, he could give us victory at the cross.
If Jesus invested and the market plunged, how might he respond? Would he remember the desert, how God kept him alive? Would he remember how he chose to honor his Father rather than bowing to evil? His choices in the desert prepared him for praying in the garden, when he said, “Father, please take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done.” Thank God for the desert. Thank you Jesus for going there.