Now that Jesus has been baptized into the Spirit, the battle begins. Both God and the devil know what’s at stake, so they jointly test Jesus in the wilderness, the traditional place of spiritual testing.
Jesus passed with flying colours. He shows that he is truly the Son of God. After this the wilderness is never any threat. Indeed, when wearied by his ministry, Jesus goes there to rest and pray. Neither can the demons mount any real opposition. Time and again, with a simple word, Jesus banishes them.
Still, the devil finds his opportune time, and Jesus goes to the cross.
What makes for an opportune time? A Canadian soldier is convinced that he met the devil incarnate in the 1994 Rwandan genocide (Shake Hands with the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda, by Romo Dallaire). Meanwhile, as I write this devotional article, I’m shocked by a massacre in an African-American church in South Carolina.
But maybe that spiritual opportunist can be found closer to home, slyly exploiting a distinctively western self-delusion: the notion of free will. Maybe the spiritual coordinates of our wilderness are precisely there.
Thank God for the victory. Thank God, that by the death and resurrection of Christ, we now have the heart and mind of God.
O God, keep my will on side with yours. Amen. — CR