This Sunday, The First Sunday in Lent, marks a return to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. At his baptism, Jesus experiences the powerful affirmation that he belongs to God and that he is loved by God. Recall that when he comes up out of the water, he hears the divine voice, “You are my beloved son. With you I am well pleased” – a phrase echoed in last week’s gospel on the mount of Transfiguration. Now, though, we are back at the baptism and after that extraordinary affirmation Jesus is “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness,” where he fasts for forty days and nights and experiences tests from “the tempter” or “the devil.” Forty days in the wilderness would have reminded Matthew’s hearers of the forty years of wandering and testing that the Hebrew people endured after they were released from their bondage in Egypt and came up out of the water of the Red Sea.
Have you ever been led by the Spirit? What did it feel like?
Forty days is a long time. Imagine the extended silences, the extra time to think. Barbara Brown Taylor once asked provocatively, “Can you handle the silence in which thoughts and feelings you have outrun, will have time to catch up with you?”
The season of Lent is your forty days. How are you being led this season? Into what wilderness might the Spirit be asking you to wander?