One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.” The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. Mark 1:9-13 (NLT)
From Hero to Zero it would seem; Jesus is basking in the coolness of a Jordan River baptism as the Spirit descends like a dove to add visual power to the Father’s approving voice – my son…you bring me great joy!
In the next heartbeat the Spirit is driving Jesus like a whipped dog into the dry, hostile desert, surrounded by wild animals to be tempted by Satan.
Does that sound like your life? One minute you’re riding the crest of the wave; the next you’re at the bottom of the cesspool!
Do you ever want to pray, OK, God, which is it…baptism or beating today? Am I dearly loved or are we headed for the woodshed?
I confess I’ve had my share of both….and prayed just like that.
When we were attending seminary there were so many times of mountain-top joy. Then there were those other times; sick kids, too many bills, incredibly small living area for two adults and three kids. There were car problems, homesickness and too little sleep combined with too much work. Baptisms and beatings, it seemed.
For Jesus, it turned out to be part of His ministry to those of us who choose to follow Him. How often would his followers need to remember what Jesus suffered in the wilderness as He prepared to defeat temptation once for all? How often would they need to be bolstered by the remembrance of the Lord overcoming Satan as they themselves would face Satanically-inspired Roman emperors and magistrates?
Power, it seems, is never inherited or granted; power is earned and learned. And the greatest teacher of spiritual strength is adversity.
Remember that this text tells us it was the Spirit of God that drove Jesus into the wilderness. Jesus went because he was willing to trust the Father, even when it seemed like it was going to be a beating rather than a baptism.
Years ago when I first got out of the Army I worked for an insurance company. The district manager was a tough boss; he demanded progress, excellence and the highest level of effort from his sales force. To be called into his office usually resulted in long nights of extra work, or worse…the axe, canned, fired!
I got called in once. Fearing the worst, I got the surprise of my life when he told me (quite gently) that he was pleased with the results of my work and he was putting me in charge of the office for the next two weeks while he was on vacation.
For You Today
No matter what you’re expecting today – beating or baptism – remember it isn’t in the hands of the disciple what the Master will lead you through.
But it is in your hand to respond in a way that will honor your Master.