Sunday, February 18, 2018

He was in the desert for 40 days

Mark 1:13

What Mark fails to mention is strange, but so are the details he includes.

There’s that funny chronological note.

Oh, Jesus was there for 40 days, you know.

And notice the geography.

It was desert – a wilderness, a lonely place.

The desert can be a place of solitude, isolation and vulnerability.

You might face hardship, depravation and danger there.

It can be associated with demons.

In the Bible it could be a place of conflict and testing, of trial and temptation – but also a place of hope and deliverance.

God was said to have met Israel, his bride, in the desert and wooed her back there.

Good news would be heard in the desert.

The desert would blossom in the end.

Jesus faced this conflict in the desert, alone.

Jesus is the only one who could face the devil like this.

It was a one on one conflict.

It shows us Jesus’ uniqueness.

He alone did for us in our place what we could not do.

But isn’t there more to it than that?

40 days in the desert.

40 days could just be a round number for a long time but perhaps your Bible alarm bells are going off now?

Where have we seen this kind of thing before in the Bible?

It could be Moses’ 40 days on Mount Sinai.

Or the 40 days for which Elijah was led to Mt Horeb.

But it’s surely meant to recall Israel’s 40 years under Moses of being tempted in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt and before they enter the promised land.

God led them into the wilderness by the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire.

And now God the Holy Spirit leads Jesus into the desert.

Israel was called the Son of God.

And Jesus is the Son of God incarnate, God the Son come in the flesh.

The nation of Israel has funnelled down onto one man.

The king of Israel in the Old Testament was also called the Son of God.

He represented the nation.

And Jesus here is our king.

He represents us.

He does this on our behalf.

Indeed, he is our substitute.

He does it in our place.

Where once there was a whole nation, now there’s just one man.

Jesus is the faithful Israelite, God’s person.

He is the only truly, fully, perfectly faithful man.

Jesus is a fresh start for the people of God.

Now, if you want to belong to the people of God, the key thing is not to have Jacob’s DNA but to have faith in Jesus.

Israel had come through the waters of the Red Sea into the desert and Jesus has come through the waters of the Jordan into the Desert.

Jesus will bring a new and better Exodus:

He will set us free from slavery to sin and death and hell.

And he will bring us through the Jordan into the promised land, ultimately of the New Creation.

He will bring in the Kingdom of God one day in all its fullness, of which the Old Testament monarchy was only a picture, a shadow, an imperfect pattern.

Jesus’ victory over the devil is ours.

Imagine yourself watching the football.

Connor Goldson heads it in and you shout, “We scored!”

When of course really you didn’t score at all.

You’ve not left your seat until after the whistle went.

In fact, if you’d been there, you certainly would have missed.

But his goal is ours.

“We did it! We won!”

So it is with the Lord Jesus.

He wins for us.

“We’re saved!”

We want to be on his team, united to him by faith, benefitting from his victory.

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