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Journey to Jerusalem Day 11

Saturday, February 27 Mark 1:9-13
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

This scene gives shape to the season of Lent as we follow Jesus in a 40-day period of fasting. If you are fasting, you will find temptation crouching at your door—sometimes for something small such as giving in to that craving for a piece of chocolate; other times, a temptation to give in to something more dastardly. In either scenario the temptation is real AND a real opportunity to say “yes” to Christ and “no” to self.

Fasting is a discipline of denial, a training exercise that helps strengthen our “yes” to Christ and our “no” to self. In fasting, our powers of discernment are strengthened. But our fasting is NOT to gain God’s favor.

We see God pronounce his pleasure with his Son at Jesus’ baptism. So it is with us! God looks at us, every baptized and believing Christian—the children of God—and says, “You are my beloved...with you I am well pleased.” Our Lenten practices are NOT to win the Father’s favor. Rather, they help to train our hearts to depend on and desire him in the midst of our needs—whether big or small.

As in all things, Jesus is our model! Notice from our text he does not simply will himself into the wilderness and through temptation. The Spirit drives him there. And while in that place of vulnerability “the angels were ministering to him.” They didn’t keep him from temptation. Nor would they keep him from the Cross.

They did, however, serve to assure him of his Father’s pronouncement: beloved. The way of Jesus—vulnerable, tempted, dying to self—is the path for every Christian made possible by the Spirit’s applying and reminding of the Father’s words of love: “You are my beloved...with you I am well pleased.”

Father, we bless you for the gift of your love! Open our eyes to see it in the midst of the small and spectacular. Reminded of your Fatherly love, enable us to discern our hearts and the world around us, that we might say “yes” to Christ and “no” to self, for the glory of Christ.