This is Day 1 of Lent, the forty days of preparation leading up to Easter. A quick check of the Wikipedia entry
will give you some helpful background. Note that in the Western
tradition, Lent starts today with Ash Wednesday and continues until
Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. Sundays are not counted as part
of the forty days because each Sunday is meant to be a mini-Easter
In the evangelical wing of the church, we’re never sure what to do about Lent. Mostly we have ignored it. But there always something to be said for preparing our hearts for big events. And Easter is the ultimate Big Event.
So I propose to write a brief meditation each day during the forty days. Mostly I am doing this for myself, as a spiritual exercise for my own heart. Perhaps you will enjoy taking this journey with me. Each day we will take a word and a text and think about it briefly.
The word for today is wilderness since the forty days of Lent come from the forty days when Jesus was in the wilderness. Note how Luke begins the story of the temptation of Christ. “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert” (Luke 4:1). We often think of Jesus as being tempted by the devil in the wilderness, which is true, but it was the Spirit who led Jesus into the wilderness. When the temptation was through and the devil defeated, Luke tells us that “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Holy Spirit” (v. 14).
Jesus was “full of the Holy Spirit.”
The Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness.
There he was tempted by the devil.
Jesus returned “in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
If we want what God wants, then we must go where God sends us, even into the wilderness. God knows what he is doing and he can be trusted.
So we begin our journey with Jesus in the wilderness. If it was necessary for the Son of God, how much more for those who follow him. In the wilderness we may feel abandoned, but we are never alone. God intends that when our wilderness time is done, we will come forth stronger than we were before.
Lord Jesus, you did not shrink back from the wilderness where you were tempted. Strengthen us so that we do not shrink back when we are put to the test. Amen.