What is it like for Jesus as he leaves Nazareth where he is known as “the son of Joseph the carpenter” to the River Jordan where he is publically identified by God as: “This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.”? (Mt. 3:17)
How does Jesus prepare for this new phase of his Journey? He enters the desert to pray for clarification and guidance. Have you noticed how doubts and temptations seem to appear when you feel called to do something new? That’s exactly what happens to Jesus in the desert as he grapples with identifying the focus of his upcoming public life. What will it be? Being hungry from his 40 days of fasting, Jesus is tempted to “Turn these stones into bread.” Will miracles be his main focus? No. Jesus replies, “Not by bread alone does one live, but by the words of God.”
What about power? Every public figure struggles with that challenge. “Jump down so the angels can bear you up and you won’t hurt yourself,” shouts the temptation for power. Later, Jesus will powerfully calm the sea that terrifies his apostles, but no, power is not his main focus.
Authority – perhaps that’s it! “I will give you authority over all these cities.” No, the worship of power and control over others is definitely not the focus. Jesus reaffirms God’s authorship with: “The Lord your God shall you worship and glorify.” (Mt.4:1-11)
What then, is to be Jesus’ main focus? It is to reveal what God is like. This revelation of God is most shown, not by miracles, not by power and control over others, but by a compassionate life. From that stance, all the other gifts – miracles, power, preaching, etc. will fall into place.
Lent is a good time to ponder the gifts you have been given. Are they in balance? What needs to be strengthened? What needs to be trimmed? How are they to be applied? Paul reminds us: “God has kindled in our hearts a light whose shining is to make know God’s glory as revealed in the features of Jesus.” (2Cor.4:5-7) Blessings as you continue journeying through these grace-filled days of Lent. May you emerge from them with a rejuvenated sense of focus. -Jackie F.