Just before Jesus is tempted in the wilderness, Mark writes, “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1:12-13 NIV
If I was in the wilderness for 40 days Mark would probably mistake my high-pitched little girl screams of terror for howling with the wild animals. Jesus was literally “among” the wild animals, yet was unharmed and unafraid. How was He not the wolves’ newest chew toy?
“There was nothing really miraculous in Christ’s immunity from harm. The wolves did not tear Him; He told them not to do so. He was a man, just such a man as God meant all men to be. And therefore He ‘had dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creepeth upon the earth.’ He was unscathed in the midst of the wolves, not because He was superhuman, but because He was truly human. We are something less than human, the wrecks and shadows of men. Having forfeited the authority of our humanity, the fish no longer obey us, and we have perforce to dangle for them with hooks and strings.” (FW Boreham, Mushrooms on the Moor)
Oftentimes we view Jesus as an untouchable superhuman, but the wolves were not afraid of Him – they were with Him! Instinctively they knew He was safe and would keep them safe as humans originally were supposed to do. That was Adam’s only job way back in the beginning at the Garden of Eden – to take care of the Earth and all the animals. What Jesus did in the wilderness with the wildness of the wild beasts and the chaotic darkness showed Him to be truly and fully human. He reclaimed dominion without domineering and violence. He was with the wild animals.
So does that mean we should wander out into the wilderness and expect the wolves to obey us? If you do, will you film that for me? You might want to bring some wolf repellent along with you.
We can’t hope to be God, but we can hope to reach our potential every day – one day at a time. Instead of trying to be superhuman, we can become more truly human by becoming more dependent on God for everything from our wealth, our health, and even our breath. Jesus went into that wilderness empty-handed, but filled with faith that God would provide food, protection, and all that He would need along the way.
Why do you think Jesus was constantly praying? Because He learned to be dependent on God for what He needed.
What is keeping you from being truly human? In other words, what are you dependent on instead of God? I know I have struggled and continue to struggle with just getting through the day without resorting to a Frappuccino for a pick-me-up or a tv show to numb the pain and my brain. It is all too easy for me to justify reaching for some sugary goodness or a caffinated buzz or the almighty remote to forget my troubles. Why don’t I ever reach out for God first? Because I am not fully human just yet.
Jesus laughed and cried and was moved with compassion. Those are human emotions. But rather than live in the moment and experience being human and reaching out to those who stir my emotions, I often reach for the remote to numb myself or reach for coffee to get more done. That makes me more like a machine than a human.
If we are dependent on things to just get us through the ordinary day, we will never have the strength, wisdom, and passion to do the extraordinary.
He does not give us Monthly Bread. He gives us only enough for one day so we trust Him to help us become more human thoughout the next day.