Skip to main content

Into the Wild

Our narrative lectionary reading for this upcoming week is from Mark 1:9-13.  It is a short little section where Jesus gets baptized by John.  The Spirit of God comes upon him and God praises Jesus from the clouds.  The Spirit then sends Jesus off into the wilderness for 40 days and nights.  In the wilderness he is tempted by Satan, and cared for by angels.

What stood out to me this week is the idea that Jesus is sent off into the wilderness as soon as he receives the Spirit, and just before his ministry begins.  In Jewish thought there was an enemy (Satan) who lived in and roamed the wilderness in the surrounding areas.  They called it Azazel.  When they offered sacrifice to God, on the Day of Atonement, they would release a second animal into the wilderness.  That animal was the scapegoat. It would carry the sins of the people, and it was given to Azazel. 

So Jesus began and ended his ministry with an encounter with Azazel in the wilderness.  Given into the hands of the enemy.  There is something deep there that I cannot even quite put words to. 

Don't we all have an experience in the wilderness?  A time of testing before ministry?  A time where we have to try our own strength so that we might believe in ourselves?  Does that mean we will also all experience some form of Jesus' second meeting with Azazel?  That we have a reckoning in our future? I suppose the whole point of the gospel is that we don't.  Jesus took care of the second meeting for us. He conquered Azazel, and serves as the new judge in the wilderness.  Praise God for a judge that is full of mercy and grace!


Popular posts from this blog

Death Will Lose it's Sting

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 15:51-57. In these verses, Paul reveals a mystery, that in the end some will be transformed, given a new body, instead of facing death.  In other words death is not one of life's two certain terms.  It seems taxes may be the only guarantee.   " this world nothing can be said to be certain, except  death and taxes ." - Benjamin Franklin. Ok, all jokes aside, these verses are difficult to read.  Paul looks forward to a time when death will have no victory, it will have lost its sting.  But today, we are in the middle of a pandemic, surrounded by death.  Many are scared for their lives, or their loved ones, and too many have already been lost.  Death does not seem to have lost its sting at all, it feels as if it is closing in. When I worked in wilderness therapy I remember holding a child who was desperately trying to kill himself.  We cried together as he struggled to end it, and I struggled

Fool for Christ

Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 2 Corinthians 5.  Verse 13 stood out to me. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. - 2 Corinthians 5:13a (NLT) John Wimber, the founder of the Vineyard churches did a famous sermon called "I am a fool for Christ, whose fool are you?".  Reading this week's text reminded me of this wonderful sermon.  Wimber's sermon reminds us that, as christians, we are called to something truly radical.  The christian walk is strange and counter cultural.  Jesus once explained this to his disciples in John 15 "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. You don't belong to this world, I have chosen you out of it.  That is why the world hates you."   Peter, in a letter to the church, later referred to all of us as strangers just passing through this world.   Do you feel like a stranger?  Do you feel like the world hates you?  Are you a fool for Christ? Here is the thing, you are going t

Looking Back?

"Remember Lot’s wife!  "   -  Luke 17:32 This is one of the shortest verses in the Bible.  Jesus was talking about the terrible circumstances that will be present when he comes back.  He was warning people that they would not see it coming.  People will be going about their business and then suddenly, without warning, chaos will take over.  People will need to flee, and he warns them not to go back for their possessions, for anything.  This is where he says "Remember Lot's wife!".  In desperation he pleads with them to remember the fate of this woman.  To his listeners it would bring to mind the story of Lot and his family fleeing the destruction of Sodom.  They too were warned not to go back for anything, not to even look back, but Lot's wife did look back.  And when she did, she turned into a pillar of salt.   Metaphorically speaking this is often what happens when we look back.  We get frozen in place and we cease moving forward.  I have a childhood frie