Wilderness Blessings (By Pastor Dave)
“These (trials) have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even when refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
1 Peter 1: 7
Luke 4: 14-29
Jesus had just been baptized and His identity as God’s Son confirmed by the Father, the Holy Spirit and John the Baptist (Luke 3: 15-22). The Holy Spirit took Him into the wilderness where He fasted for forty days and was tested by Satan (Luke 4: 1-13). Satan tempted Jesus in His hunger to doubt His identity and to abuse His power by turning stones to bread (vs.3). Jesus answered, quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, that man doesn’t live on bread alone but on God’s Word (vs.4). Satan then tempted Jesus to worship and serve Satan and Himself (vs. 5-7); Jesus answered with Scripture again that we are to worship and serve God alone (vs. 8, Deut. 6: 13). In the final test Satan tempted Jesus towards unbelief and again over His identity. Jesus answered with belief and God’s Word instructing us not to test God (vs. 12, Deut. 6: 16). Power, Worship, Identity and Unbelief all tested. Satan failed and Christ was proved. The Holy Spirit then equipped and led Jesus in power to begin His ministry assured of His identity and Mission (vs. 14-15).
Luke takes us, with Christ, to His hometown of Nazareth where Jesus confirmed His identity and Mission by reading from Isaiah (17-21). He was ushering in the Good News of the Kingdom of God. Is it me, or do we not then see a direct correlation between Jesus’ tests and the reaction of His home community? His identity is questioned and there is unbelief (vs. 22, Mark 6: 3, 6). Jesus was tempted to make physical bread in the wilderness, here He quotes the supernatural provision of bread that saved Elijah, the widow and her Son (vs. 24-26, 1 Kings 17:7-16); Jesus later called Himself the Bread of Life, the Word of God, that truly sustains us and gives life (John 6: 47-51, Deut. 8: 3). Finally in unbelief the home crowd drove Him to the brow of a hill to throw Him off, Satan had tempted Jesus to test God by throwing Himself off the temple (vs. 28-29, 9). In power He simply walked through the crowd (vs. 30).
Jesus’ wilderness testing had refined Him and confirmed His power, identity, mission and faith in His Father. I believe we see the confirmation of these lessons working out practically when He faced rejection and opposition in His hometown; if any were to cause doubt and disbelief would it not be friends and family?
We will all have wilderness experiences in our lives, it could be argued that the world is in one now. God can use these trials to confirm and prove our faith in Him which can result in praise, glory and honour in Jesus (1 Peter 1: 7).
To Ponder: Do you feel like you are in a wilderness experience right now? How is God’s power and your identity in Him being tested; is what you worship and serve being revealed? As you/we come out of this wilderness experience how will this testing equip you to move forward in God’s Kingdom Mission of reconciliation; how is it helping you right now?
To Pray: Thank you Lord that you have given us new birth into a living hope with an inheritance that cannot be lost; shielded by your power. Give us faith in these truths as we face trials, assured of your refining work, and filled with an inexpressible joy because of our faith in and love for Jesus. May we receive the goal of our faith, the very salvation of our souls and may we take that truth in you to others. Amen
(From 1 Peter 1: 3-9)
Praise: I am the Bread of Life
Link - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CRMbh8ViUI - soloist
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX4uC3a7RC8 - choir
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.