This week the universal church heard Mark’s telling of the temptations of Jesus. For years I didn’t connect with this story, seeing Jesus as the God who could not authentically be tested. It was not until I started working in Mission Integration that I have reflected anew on this story, seeing authentic mission as the core of this moment in the life of Jesus.
All of Satan’s options tempt Jesus to misuse his power or take foolish risks in the name of his mission. Satan goads Jesus to inflate his personal sense of who he is and his mission, seeing it as individual and disconnected from the whole; the bigger picture of God’s plan for all. This is a temptation for those who feel called to share in the mission of Christ.
Jesus was free and able to accept all of Satan’s offers, but he chose to remain true to who he was and what his mission needed of and from him. It would have been unnecessary, even damaging, to exert greater power than what was needed in the name of mission.
This story reminds us that to live mission authentically can feel like a lonely, desert experience and a time of constant testing. However, as writers like John of the Cross remind us, the desert is the meeting place of God, where God is hidden but most active in and through us. Living this way requires faith and prayer, and the presence of those who give us perspective and healing words.
Instead of pushing personal power and his own agenda, or doing things that would attract the wrong kind of political worship, he armed himself with truth…found in the word of God and in ministering angels, to stand firm for the universal mission which God entrusted to him.
Thanks for reading!