Right now, many of us are getting over that three day hump and are starting to get used to whatever Lenten sacrifice we made. But Lent can’t only be about saying ‘no’. It is so important to realise that when we say ‘no’ to something, we are also saying ‘yes’ to something else. That’s where the true spirit of Lent starts to show through and that’s what this Sunday’s reading is all about.
This Sunday walks us through how Jesus spent his Lent. He was in the wilderness for 40 days. He was tempted and he emerged ready to proclaim the Kingdom of God.
One thing I find strange about this reading is that we learn the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness. This is the same Holy Spirit that baptised him only moments earlier. To me, this shows the wilderness is not godless. God goes wherever we go. We all have our own wildernesses and God is there with us in all of them. Our times of struggle, loneliness, and desperation are not beyond the help of God. More than this, the wilderness can be a transformational space for God to act in our lives. He motivates us to go there. We have to be willing to say ‘yes’ to going into the wilderness. Christ did. Christ said ‘yes’ to 40 days of it too. He could have walked out of there. But he didn’t. He stayed.
The wilderness and the Kingdom of God are two theatres of the soul. In the Old Testament, the wilderness is a place where the people of Israel encounter God but it is also a place where they are tempted to worship false idols. Lent is a time to examine our conscience and question whether we are responding to the Spirit of God or if we are falling to the temptations of false idols. After all, when things get tough, we really discover who we are and what we lean on. That’s when the curtains open on the Kingdom of God. Christ’s time in the wilderness led him to proclaim the Kingdom of God. In imitation of Christ, through our own struggles, when we choose God over everything else, we cannot help but take steps closer to the Kingdom of God.