September 24, 2014

After the temptations . . .

Luke tells what Jesus did after His temptation in the wilderness: “Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.” (Luke 4:14-16)

I’ve been back to my hometown only a few times since I became a Christian. The first was a reunion. It was like being dropped into another planet. Two of the fellows I had dated in high school were there. Back then, both had asked me to marry them. At the reunion, both were drunk, one so much so that he couldn’t remember my name. I was completely shocked.

As I read this story of Jesus in His hometown, I wondered if He felt the way I did. I did not expect to  see so many people still locked into their old patterns of life. They were not only on destructive paths, but seemed totally oblivious to the renewal that Christ could give.

I was surprised and felt separated, without any idea of how to relate to my former friends, but of course Jesus knew what to do in His hometown of Nazareth; He told them the good news.

In this study of spiritual dangers, I’m thinking how this incident relates to the temptations that Jesus just experienced. The devil tried to get Him to satisfy His hunger in the wrong way, test God’s care by taking a huge risk, and obtain His inheritance by worshiping Satan.

My first thought is an excuse: If God wanted me to tell those people from my past about my life with Jesus Christ, He could have overcome my dismay, filled me with His Spirit, and given me the words to say. However, as soon as I wrote that sentence, I realized what happened to me would never have happened to Jesus. He always knew what to do and say — because He always relied on His Father to give Him the words. He never froze over at the mouth out of shock or fear, because He totally trusted God. And if He was quiet, it was because God asked Him to be quiet.

I cannot recall my spiritual state at the time of that reunion for it was at least twenty years ago, maybe more, but I do know my tendency to either talk out of turn or talk too much, or to go the opposite extreme and not speak up when I ought to say something.

This constitutes a spiritual danger; not allowing God to control my mouth and instead beaking off when I should stop and listen, or letting fear of a negative reaction zip my lip. Everyone knows the struggle with speech. We say too much or not enough. But not Jesus.

As I try to connect His temptation with His teaching in the temple, I wonder if it is this: His deliverance from Satan’s lies and challenges filled Him with such joy and great boldness that He could not help but speak? Luke did say that after His temptation, Jesus returned “in the power of the Spirit.”

I understand this, at least in a small way. My wilderness experience on Sunday night changed the way that I talk and feel, something like the pass receiver who just ran a touchdown and does a summersault in the end zone, or the gold medal winner on the podium. God gave me a victory in a war that seemed impossible to win and that is a joyful thing. I’ve had several opportunities to tell others various things about the Christ and His joy makes words and boldness easy.

My conclusion? After the wilderness, Nazareth is a piece of cake.

No comments: