“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.And a voice came from heaven:
“You are my son, whom I love , with you I am well pleased.”
At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert forty days, and he was in the desert forty days being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him”
As a Christian one may look at this scripture and feel a bit unsettled because on one hand we observe Christ fulfilling the words of the prophets by getting baptized in the river Jordan, and than we read in amazement as we see the heavens being torn open while the Spirit descends on Jesus like a dove. Oh how proud the Father is in this moment as we see the Him not holding his favor for Christ, but taking this opportunity to express the love He has for His Son, and more importantly how pleased he is with Him.
Ah, what every Christian, and what every follower and lover of the word of God wants to hear; to ultimately be pleasing to the who predestined him, but the tone in the text takes an abrupt pivotal interlude, and in the very same breath we see the same Spirit that is being likened to a dove , is now the same Spirit sending Christ into the desert for forty days. To what? To be tempted by Satan.
What do you do when you know you have heard the voice of God ,without a doubt, being pleased with you only to turn around, and experience an avalanche of trial, tribulation, and tests? Many would think after finding out that the Lord is pleased with the road already traveled and the pain already endured that a nice long break would follow or at least a season a some cords of human kindness to soften the blow. If only, as Christians, we were so lucky for this scripture states the opposite, and what is more disturbing than being sent to a dry place is waking up in the desert finding ourselves surrounded by unfamiliarity as well as it being an unsettling place to lay our heads. Perhaps for you waking up in the desert it is not being given the right hand of fellowship in your church or maybe you are finding yourself on the outside of a college university click or struggling with the naysayers and backstabbers of your community.
Unfortunately as all people must experience bad and good in their lives , it is especially apparent in the wilderness ,as we pick up our cross and walk, because the desert is not just paved with drought, but it is also paved with wild animals to boot, and in my personal experience the wild animals I’ve crossed paths with, on the yellow brick road, are the pack traveling wolves!
Wolves, what an interesting species which is prone to howl when calling their pack together and also having the ability to kill prey larger than its size leaving no shock when discovering that they have 5 stages describing the strategic way they seek, kill, and destroy: First up is Locating their Prey which their scent assists in them being able to track their victim better, next is The Stalk where the wolves attempt to conceal themselves as they approach their prey getting as close as possible without making the animal flee. Following this is The Encounter once the prey detects the wolf they both approach one another where the wolf can sense better what the prey will do, immediately after the encounter you have what they call The Rush meaning this only happens if the animal in pursuit tries to flee, and lastly The Chase this is a continuation of the rush where the wolf catches up with the prey to kill it.
In my opinion it is important to know as a Christian that we will often be approached by a wolf on our walk, and in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus draws attention to this very observation when he sends his disciples out to towns and villages spreading what they have been taught to all that would hear, listen, and obey it, but he releases them out with this word, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”
In the natural when seeing a wolf one would quickly call animal control to whisk away the dangerous beast, but what do you do when you encounter a wolf spiritually? Sorry to say there is no animal control for that, however as we learned previously the Stalk is a phase in the pursuit to kill where the wolf purposely conceals his identity to get closer to his prey. In the natural this is like discovering that the best friend you’ve had for decades approached you as a sheep making you feel that they were for you only to discover when the wolf reared its ugly head that they were never for you. Devastating…
But the Encounter phase is that much more fascinating I purposely omitted a portion because it truly speaks to the God given posture we must adopt if we are to make it through the adversity of the one who seeks to kill and destroy us. It is, the pivotal moment in this encounter phase outlining what we must anchor in our Spirits as Christians who believe in the power of the Holy Spirit that dwells in us. When a wolf approaches in the phase of The Encounter he approaches not knowing how the other animal will respond, and it is in this moment victory can truly be ours for if the prey attempts to flee the wolf chases it down and ultimately kills it, BUT if the targeted animal stands its ground, the wolf will ignore it or try to intimidate to provoke a response of fleeing so that the wolf can kill it.
Wow, this is very interesting because all believers are told when adversity, struggles, and the wolves of the world come knocking at your door to apply this application,
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13 & ” Resist the devil and he will flee from you” James 4:7
Praise the Lord!
So don’t let the wolves of this world intimidate you so that you are so scared you are running. No! take these words and write them on the tablet of your heart as you are steadfast for the Lord for it is He that is stronger in you than he in the world, and always remember when you have done all you can do just stand, and watch the Salvation of the Lord!