A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Journey Into the Lenten Wilderness

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him (Mark 1:12-13).

In contrast to Matthew and Luke, Mark’s story of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness is very brief and gives little detail. We are not told the nature of the temptations Jesus resists nor how he responds to the wiles of the devil. But Mark tells us something that the other Gospel writers do not: Jesus was in the wilderness "with the wild beasts."

In Judaism the wilderness is symbolic for a time of testing; it also signifies the place of evil. In the desert, Jesus begins his battle with the "wild beasts," the principalities and powers that attempt to thwart God's plans for his creation. He not only deals with his own "beasts" as he prepares for his ministry, but he confronts the forces of hatred and injustice and oppression. Jesus will do so throughout his ministry.

Each year the journey of Lent is a microcosm of the macrocosm of life's journey. During Lent we remind ourselves of something that is true for us and our world all year round. We examine our own lives in an attempt to "tame the wild beasts" of our sinful nature. We also examine our place in this world and how our lives contribute to the work of love and justice in this world; and where we hinder and undermine such work.

Our personal journeys of discipleship are important for us, and they are important for others as well. How we live makes a difference in this world. God wants to use us to foster truth and justice in this world. In order to confront the "wild beasts" in the wilderness of this world, we must discipline ourselves to manage the personal temptations we confront every day. The season of Lent is training and preparation for the discipline of year-round and life-long discipleship. As followers of Jesus we are not excluded from the wilderness. We, like Jesus, are "driven" into it.

Just as Jesus faced the beasts and prevailed, so can we; for like Jesus the angels are waiting on us.

1 comment:

Ted M. Gossard said...

Interesting perspective. I'm glad to be part of a denomination that recognizes or mentions Lent. Yes, what you say here is really true each and every day. Though some days seem almost a respite from it all. I had as good a day today, as my day yesterday was "bad". So I'm glad for the times when God gives us rest beside the still waters.