At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness. –Mark 1:12
Once upon a time, college graduates exited their education, most of them finding gainful, relevant employment within a few months of taking their diplomas in hand. The few of them who opted not to take up their positions within corporate America or working in some long-sought profession were seen as bizarre outliers. The idea of Jimmy spending a year “finding himself” or Tina traveling Europe to “figure out who she is” struck most people as self-indulgent nonsense. After all, once all of that tuition had been paid, after the credits had been earned, it made no sense not to begin cashing in on the fruits immediately.
Has there ever been a person more completely prepared for his “professional” life than was Jesus of Nazareth? By passing through the waters of baptism with John the Baptist, Jesus effectively graduated at the top of his class of one from the University of Judea with a degree in Messiahness. Hadn’t God the Father just said, “I’m well pleased with him”?
Why then did Jesus head off into the wilderness for what would prove to be a forty-day visit? As if to demonstrate that Jesus did not simply decide to take some time off to work on his tan, Mark explains in today’s verse that “the Spirit sent him.”
Had it been some type-A graduate of one of America’s business or law schools, we would have probably seen something different on the banks of the Jordan. Those stellar graduates often have jobs lined up before graduation–or at least they did back when college graduates could get jobs. These people might take a couple of weeks off to clear out their college apartments and perhaps enjoy a bit of down time. Then they start work on June 1, impatient to get started making a difference in the world, overeager to begin seeing that education pay dividends.
Again, has anyone ever completed an education more ready to get to work than was Jesus? I hardly think so, yet the Spirit saw fit to send Jesus into the wilderness. He didn’t say, “Jesus, one of these days, you ought to spend a little time out in the wilderness.” He sent Jesus “at once.”
And what possible good could come from a forty-day stay in the wilderness. To the best of our records, Jesus didn’t carry a rucksack full of scrolls. He didn’t have wifi access. He didn’t meet with anyone out there. All he had was himself and the other two persons of the Godhead.
If Jesus–fully God and fully man–needed to spend time alone with God before getting to work, how much more do you and I need to do that? We don’t need to “find ourselves,” but we do need to find God and locate ourselves in relation to him.