The Spark that Started Jesus’ Ministry
“Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing. Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” – Isaiah 43:18-19
The old Covenant from Moses was coming to an end and the new one was about to begin. A Covenant of Grace. No more striving. No more living for perfection. Now a time of serving. A time of loving God and loving others. A time when sin would be wiped away with one sacrifice, instead of needing a frequent trip to the temple, hoping that God would accept it. Now people would know that God always accepts a repentant heart.
At one time, “every priest stands day after day ministering and offering the same sacrifices time after time, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11)
But now, “this man, after offering one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God…For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:12-13)
We had the privilege at Christmas to reflect on the birth of Jesus. It was so miraculous. It shook the people of that day. After centuries of silence, Holy Spirit shook up the towns and performed signs and wonders the Israelites of that time had never experienced.
Then Jesus grew up. Moments of His childhood gave glimpses into His abilities. The Father was teaching Him. Holy Spirit was working in Him. Then came the day. The day that would spark the beginnings of it all.
John the Baptist, the greatest prophet, baptized His cousin Jesus. And the power of the Trinity was revealed. The Spirit descended on Jesus “like a dove” Mark 1:10. Then the Father spoke over Jesus:
“You are My Beloved Son;
I take delight in You!” -Mark 1:11
The Three-in-One showed each of their persons in this powerful moment. Jesus didn’t come on His own. “Jesus Christ – He is the One who came by water and by blood, not by water only, but by water and by blood. And the Spirit is the One who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water, and the blood – and these three are in agreement” – 1 John 4:6-8
Jesus’ story had to include baptism. It was to signify Him washing away our sins and bringing us new life. It was prophesying and showing what His life would represent. Then came His blood that was shed on the cross for our sins. We needed the sacrifice to happen for us to be set free. It had to come from a perfect, unblemished offering. Since nothing on earth is perfect or pure, God Himself had to be the sacrifice.
Because of human doubt and skepticism, the Spirit Himself testified through Jesus and in us in order to be able to believe all that happened. Together, they formulated a perfect testimony and picture of Jesus’ purpose in becoming man for us.
After the baptism came the greatest temptation man would ever know. Jesus, in the wilderness, alone with the Father before anyone knew Him as the Messiah. It was quiet. It was hot and hard. He didn’t eat or drink. He brought Himself to the point of starvation. Why? Why would anyone do that to himself?
For preparation. In order to be taught and equipped by the Father for the ministry that was ahead of Him. To learn as much as He could. To learn dependency on God the Father and not man. To know His voice above any other. To see that God was enough in humanity to overcome anything.
He also did it to be our example. To show us that we can overcome any temptation. It says in Mark 1:13 that “He was in the wilderness 40 days, being tempted by Satan.” Jesus would have craved any kind of food or drink. He would have missed the loving embrace of human touch. He would’ve missed his family that He was surrounded by since birth. The Lord created us to have a relationship with Him, yet in His tempted human state in the wilderness, He didn’t have any relationship to turn to or depend on except the Father and Spirit alone. He felt sick and weary. He felt alone and I’m sure depressed at some point. I can imagine He grieved the quiet life He had for the life that was coming. He knew what was ahead.
Then the enemy ramped up his temptations at Jesus’ lowest point and tried to offer Him the world. Satan was the prince of the world. He had the rights to it since sin entered the picture. If Jesus had given into the temptation, there would not have been an eternal sacrifice for us. But He had spent time with the Father and was equipped. He had fasted and prayed. He had learned and resisted. He knew the Father’s voice intimately and knew what He needed to say and do in order to escape the temptation and follow through with the Lord’s plans.
When He did, the Lord blessed Him for it.
“Immediately, the Devil left Him, and immediately angels came and began to serve Him” Matthew 4:11.
How much does this sound like your own life? You give your life to Jesus. You are baptized. You experience His presence, leading, and miracles in your life. You’re living up the spiritual high points. Then all of a sudden, you’re being tempted. You’re enduring a trial. You’re family calls with bad news. The list goes on. It’s the highs and lows of life, much like Jesus endured.
Jesus’ time in the wilderness also reminded me of this year for a lot of you. You’ve craved eating out at restaurants. You’ve missed the touch of a hug or embrace. You’ve missed family and friends. Perhaps you weren’t able to work or your health has kept you stuck indoors. Jesus endured all these sufferings and temptations. He’s understood how hard this year has been.
But remember that there’s always hope. Eventually, the wilderness ended. The angels served Jesus and preparations for His amazing ministry were underway. What might the Lord be building in you through all of this? What might He be working in your heart and life to prepare you for? Are you listening and learning what the Father’s voice sounds like? Are you in tune with how Holy Spirit works? Have you been taking the time to learn from the Lord in order to prepare for the busier season ahead?
Maybe there’s a ministry He wants you to serve in. Perhaps there’s a mission field with your name on it? Or a job you never dreamed of trying before. Could it be that He has a special relationship awaiting you? Children you need to prepare for? Spiritual gifts that will soon bud and come to life? The list is endless, because God loves creativity and working specifically in your story for His glory. Learn from the Father in this season and be strengthened for what’s ahead for you too.