I could have written that sermon for you this morning, but I didn't. I The Spirit must have wanted me to write a poem instead, because that's what got written. It's a poem about how I once ran away and how God found me anyway. Now seminary may seem like a strange place to run from God, but at the time it felt as if the Spirit were driving me into a wilderness called seminary. In those years I was preparing for ministry, I'd never been so hungry. My faith had never been so tested. Let me tell you about that time. I hope you'll pardon the rhyme.
We have all we need. We're ready, and the Word for today is the story of Jesus tempted by the devil in the wilderness. But it doesn't start out with the devil. Notice that it starts out with the Spirit of God. It is the Spirit that leads Jesus into the wilderness. In the Gospel of Mark, the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness. So here's the first lesson: if you find yourself in a spiritual wasteland, don't think that God has nothing to do with your being there. The question to ask is this: "What does God want me to learn while I'm here?"
Jesus knew they would do this. That's why he said, "Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet's hometown." Jesus knew that he couldn't go home because in a real sense, Nazareth was no longer his home. The mental wall that had secured their identity had become a wall of bigotry. And it was bigotry that was holding the people on both sides of the wall in captivity. As far as Jesus could see, breaching that wall was the only way to bring them liberty.