Monday, 23 February 2015

Whole new world?

Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As it's half term, Lent has begun with grandchildren duties and  many viewings of Disney's Aladdin. Amazing where you get inspiration from. 

Hopefully, many of us will have the opportunity sometime during Lent to step outside the mundane path of life and take a retreat. There are so many different ways these days, literally spending the time in a secluded space, guided by courses, reflective books or on-line encouragement. Lent's lengthening of the days offer us a little more daylight that could be turned to our advantage given our desire and a little luck. 

This is a spiritual practice I look forward to so much and bemoan when it doesn't come along.  How much I wish for a weekend, a day, an hour - even five minutes solitude. So forty days is nothing more than a fantasy.

Interesting then, that Jesus didn't ask to go. The Spirit does not take Jesus, or even drive Jesus, the word used is ἐκβάλλω - expulsion, the same word that describes Jesus' exorcism of demons. Jesus is dragged out of whatever intention he may have had. It seems that, just after his baptism, Jesus is not in the best of places.

And who would be, if the knowledge of who you were brought with it , as Robin Williams' Genii would say 'Phenomenal cosmic powers! a itty bitty living space'. 

Scripture tells us of all the times God is disappointed in us, in how we behave, how we let God down. How much more raw would it feel if it was your mother who was slandered, your father who was given the cuckold sign, your stomach that was empty, your village that was impoverished and oppressed? Given what is going on in our world today - if someone gave you three wishes wouldn't you be setting some people straight, whether they liked it or not? 

This makes Satan's task so easy.  The real temptation makes so much sense, seems so holy. To create that world that the Father can only dream of. Turning human beings into the pawns of a Kingdom of God that is only a mirage of God's true desire.

In the desert Jesus learns of God's relationships in the world - with Satan, with the beasts, with the angels. For a man out of Nazareth it is a whole new world and one only the Spirit can guide him through. Never mind the cosmic powers, here in the desert Jesus is reminded of his humanity and the people he has come to share his life with, as well as to serve.

The rest of his ministry, Jesus will live with the temptation of our lives given into his hands. How notable that he only acts on request and with discretion. One of the first miracle requests in Mark reminds him,  'If you are willing.' 

At the end of the film, Aladdin learns that his human gifts are enough, a promise is kept, the Genii is set free. Jesus is set free with the knowledge and acknowledgment that he is his Father's son and it is his Father's Kingdom that he is building. And for that task - he is willing. 


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