Jesus returned to Galilee, and “a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.” Wait, Jesus had been gone forty days and we know he wasn’t livestreaming his experience, so what was in the report? That he had survived all that time in isolation with no food? That not even the promise of power and position could tempt Jesus to turn his back on God? Did Jesus start his public ministry by testifying about his battle with the enemy? We don’t know. But we do know that the story was spread and passed along because we have it.
There is power in offering testimony. Sharing what we have gone through might just be the encouragement that someone needs to leave an abusive relationship, stand up to an unjust employer, finish a degree, conquer an addiction or fear, seek help, write a book, or give love another chance.
Not only did Jesus’ spiritual practice prepare him for the struggles he would face; it also created space that allowed him to be “filled with the power of the Spirit” and to teach and lead with conviction, clarity, compassion, and courage.
From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus embraced vulnerability. He knew the importance of sharing his experience and the lessons he had learned. He wanted people to get to where he was in their relationship with God and to be clear that he was the example of God’s love made flesh and not the exception. Jesus wanted them to know that they too could overcome obstacles and that evil did not have to have the final word.
In a fast-changing world, many of us have the gift of social media as a space to share our wilderness experiences and to realize that we are not the only ones going through such trials. Social media help us celebrate the many ways we have found joy, strength, and hope on our journey. Often we have the pics to prove it!
Holy Spirit, fill us and use us as we offer ourselves this day as a living testimony of your grace, power, and love. Amen.
How do we feel when we read the word of God? The Israelites rejoice in God’s law. At the time of the restoration of Jerusalem after the return from exile, Ezra reads from the Law and explains its meaning to the people. They respond by holding a feast because understanding God’s teachings is a source of joy. The psalmist says that God’s law revives the soul, causes the heart to rejoice, and helps us to see clearly. Paul continues with his teaching on spiritual gifts, emphasizing that all members of the body of Christ have an important role. No one can claim to be any more important than anyone else. In Luke, Jesus reads from Isaiah and declares that his messianic ministry will focus on justice, mercy, and healing.
Read Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10. When has God’s word overwhelmed you? How did you react?
Read Psalm 19. How do you seek to speak or sing words acceptable to God? How does this shape your life?
Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31a. Within the body of Christ, as within our human bodies, parts compensate for one another. How do you take on more to support the body of Christ when others struggle? How do you allow others to take on your roles when you struggle?
Read Luke 4:14-21. In what ways have you rejected Jesus?
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