It’s interesting how significant the wilderness was to Jesus’ life and mission. In the book of Luke we see that immediately after Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit led him to the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil and didn’t eat anything for 40 days. Those 40 days were obviously extremely difficult but I also think they were 40 days of deep intimacy with his Father. I say this because after those 40 days he “returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit”. I also assume this because later on we see Jesus going to the wilderness often to be alone with his Father. I think the wilderness was a place where he had some special time with his Father in spite of the temptation that also probably came his way out there. As hard as that wilderness experience was and as weak as he may have felt when it was over, it seems like he was as empowered and filled when he came out as he was when he went in. Except now he was even more ready for the plans that lay ahead of him. It seems like the wilderness played a huge role in equipping him for what lay ahead.
Isn’t it crazy that the Holy Spirit would actually lead Jesus into a place and time of temptation. So, it would seem like our own times in the wilderness can be both Spirit-led and include significant temptation from Satan. I think if we take Jesus’ example and make that tough experience one where we draw close to our Father it can be an instrumental time in our life too. It can be an integral part of preparing us for our mission with Jesus.
As I mentioned before, it wasn’t this one time that Jesus was in the wilderness. He went there often. 40 days was a long time but it wasn’t enough to sustain him for a life of mission. He consistently took a break from the craziness of his mission to go to the wilderness. He knew that to accomplish his mission he needed to continually be connected to his Father… receiving power, strength, and direction from the Spirit. I think Jesus clearly showed us that there is no mission without the wilderness. The wilderness fueled his mission and the mission led to his wilderness experiences. They worked together. He was always connected to his Father but those times in the wilderness were critical to him accomplishing his mission here on earth.
This is true for us as well. Our times with other followers of Jesus are critical to being on mission, but so are the alone times with Jesus. We need to go to the wilderness often. If we don’t, it’s likely we won’t be on mission, or we’ll be on the wrong one.