Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1
Still dripping wet from baptism, Jesus is led into gut-wrenching temptation. It’s tough to watch. Jesus is vulnerable in every way imaginable, and the tempter comes at him with everything he’s got. Make sure you have your coffee on Sunday, because we’re digging into this reading with both hands!
However, our reading doesn’t end there. After his exhausting experience in the wilderness, Jesus makes a fascinating decision. He knows the brutal king Archelaus is on the throne in Judea, but instead of confronting Archelaus, Jesus “withdrew to Galilee” (4:12b). What’s going on? Is Jesus running away? Is he going to just sit back and let Archelaus’ reign of oppression continue?
Hardly. Jesus does something extraordinary. Jesus preaches the Kingdom.
I admit, when I hear of all the suffering going on in the world, I want those in power torn from their leadership. I want them held accountable for all the world to see. But in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus shows us another way. He shows us that to proclaim the Kingdom of God is to refuse to bow before tyrants. It is to proclaim that the end of the tyrant’s reign is near. It is to confess God is the ruler of the world, and it exposes the ultimate futility of anyone who works against God’s purposes for life and love. Far from running away, proclaiming the Kingdom put a target on Jesus’ back.
It seems to me, that if you are as fed up as I am about the suffering in the world, we’d better get out there and proclaim the Kingdom. After all, Jesus is out there already!
See you Sunday…