I can’t even fathom the transition Jesus endured. He went from the high point of his baptism to being drawn into the wilderness to encounter the craftiness of Satan. The passage says Jesus was “compelled” to spend these 40 days in the desert. That’s a long time to be tempted by evil.
Mark’s gospel account of these two life events seems like the condensed version when compared to other gospels. Both were significant milestones in Jesus’ life. The baptism appears in all four gospels, and the temptation in three. Both events take place before Jesus begins his ministry.
The book of Zechariah is often viewed in three sections because of stylistic differences. The first includes Chapters 1-8, the second Chapters 9-11, and the third, Chapters 12-14. The latter sections are thought to have been added to this book but not necessarily written by Zechariah. Don’t be surprised when we get to those later chapters and the style and focus changes a bit.
Like Haggai, Zechariah first speaks to the Israelites returning to Jerusalem from their exilic captivity. This was a chance for a new life, and God wanted to make sure they were secure in the hope that only he provides. Have you ever moved to a new city? You know the adjustment period can be challenging.
Did you recognize these words from Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2? Peter was bold that day because of the Holy’s spirit’s power he was tapping into. He proclaimed that what the people were seeing was a fulfillment of this very prophecy of Joel. It has been suggested that Pentecost was only the beginning of the “age of fulfillment” of this prophecy.
What spoke to me the loudest was that God promised us the Holy Spirit through his prophet, Joel, all those years before Jesus walked the earth. Jesus helped us understand what that promise meant. When you feel the Holy Spirit’s power coursing through your body, it’s a sensation that is hard to describe. What an honor to receive such a gift from God!
Have you ever thought of yourself as a lump of clay in the hands of a master potter, the Creator? This passage shows us Jeremiah’s obedience to follow God’s voice all the way to a potter’s shop. We also see how God uses this example to point out exactly how accessible his control is over our lives. For the most part, God leaves us to figure things out, but he always has our best interest in mind.
In the case of Jeremiah’s first audience, their actions had tarnished the relationship with the Creator. Their rebellious actions had angered God severely. Jeremiah tells again how God sees his children’s rejection and what will result.
My self-confidence as a child was next to nothing. I was always picked last for games at recess, and I was often teased for being plumper than the other girls. It didn’t matter that my parents were proud of me or that teachers liked me. I never felt like I was good enough. My first husband added to that insecurity with his abuse and harsh words. Paul’s words truly liberate me, even today.
We don’t have to stress out about our own abilities. It is in Christ we can have all the confidence we need. He will never let us down. Paul reminds his audience of his Jewish credentials, but still his humility shines through. He acknowledges even he was nothing without Christ. The same is true for us. Whether we are popular or not, our value lies in our connection to Jesus.