By Gary Piper
Authors note: The following story is about the forty day wilderness period in Jesus’ life that remains a mystery after 2000 years. Since the scriptures tell us that Jesus was completely human and completely divine perhaps it is during that wilderness trek that the human and divine completed their unification. Perhaps his encounters in the wilderness also prepared him for life. So grab your imagination and lets journey where only one man has gone before, a man named Jesus, the Messiah.
Before cresting the hill leading from Nazareth Jesus turned once more to look at his home town. In the late afternoon sun he could see the Synagogue where he learned from the Old Testament prophets who he really was. He could see the carpenter shop where he and Joseph worked long and hard to provide for the family. He could see his home where he knew his mother would be praying hard for him. “I will be okay, mother because I am going about my Fathers business,” he said out loud as if she was right next to him.
It seemed like only yesterday that he and his friends played in the narrow streets. He breathed a deep sigh of relief as he turned and walked down the hill toward the vast unknown uncharted journey that lay ahead.
He could feel the power of his heavenly Father pulsing through his body following his baptism in the Jordan River by his cousin John. “Things will never be the same,” he said to himself turning away from memories that brought a smile to his thin lips. A single tear rolled down his cheek as he followed the flight of the dove leading him into the next phase of his Sonship.
After walking a few hours the soon to be Prince of Peace watched as the dove landed on a low branch of an olive tree, the bird patiently waited. Jesus knew why the bird had stopped; its journey had come to an end. Jesus’ next companion would be the angels sent by his Father. After watching the dove fly off into the deep blue sky the Son of God sat down under the tree and began eating the small lunch his mother had prepared for him. “How long will it be before I will eat again?” he asked himself.
As he thought about what lie ahead his mind began racing faster and faster, deep in his spirit he felt at peace, yet his mind was still troubled. He knew he was the Son of God. He knew that long ago he stood at the threshold of time and brought everything into existence. He knew that he and his Father watched as their greatest creation fell from grace. Once again he experienced the pain of the fall. Once again he experienced the pain of his love for the fallen. He knew that he had the power to un-create creation, to make it so there was just he and his Father like in the beginning. “That would be the easiest way,” he said to himself.
Suddenly a faint whisper grabbed his attention. It wasn’t a voice or a sound from a bird or any animal, or the wind; it was just a whisper, an attention getter. But Jesus knew the source and quickly he turned and looked directly into the sun. He did not see a vast array of light spectrums, he did not see sun spots, he did not see solar flares, or solar storms. He saw the face of God. He saw the power and the means by which creation came into being. He saw pure love, purer than any human had ever felt. As the power and presence of God drenched his entire being he became one with the environment. The wilderness became a part of him, the grassy meadows became a part of him. It was over in less than heartbeat then momentarily blinded by the brilliance of the sun he covered his eyes and wept. With tears of joy streaming down his face he could not find the words to tell God how much he loved him, there were no words.
Standing and scanning his surroundings behind him stretched the road home. Home was a place where he was loved and accepted as Jesus son of Mary and Joseph, a carpenter with a brilliant future. He would be safe there; he would never have to be any more than he was right now. He liked feeling safe. He liked feeling accepted.
Suddenly the parting words of his lifelong friend Josiah filtered into his memory, “Please don’t leave Jesus, you’re the only friend I have in the world, you’re the only person who understands and accepts me I need you please don’t go.” Josiah as a young boy had fallen and nearly died from a head injury most people thought him to be possessed by a demon but he had no demons just scars that would not go away. Deep in his spirit Jesus knew their paths would one day cross again, he also knew the world was full of Josiah’s and the future Great Physician smiled at the outcome.
Also stretching before him was the road that led to Jerusalem. His mother and father had told him what awaited him there already he could feel twinges of pain in his hands. Already he could hear shouts of anger, of disappointment. He wanted to turn and run, “Father if it be thy will may the vision at the end of this road pass from my sight and my life.” The vision remained.
To his left lie a beautiful meadow arrayed with bright wild flowers and tall green grass, a gentle breeze from the southeast created wave after wave of greens, yellows, reds, and purple. He momentarily closed his eyes and watched as the hand of God painted each pedal, each leaf. The peace was captivating, almost to captivating. For an instant he thought he saw his father, Joseph signaling him, “Come lie down, enjoy the beautiful fragrance of the flowers, enjoy the warmth of the sun. Don’t worry about the time you have all eternity, come,” the figure urged. Getting ready to take a step a cold wind stopped him.
Turning around and facing the wilderness and the cold breeze he stared into nothingness. To the south, there was home, to the north was Jerusalem, to the east was the sanctity of the meadow, but to the west lie the unknown. A quiet, small voice coming from unknown was calling him. Deep inside, where only his Father had been he knew he must travel to unknown, he must bring light and truth so there would be no unknown’s ever again.
But before entering the next phase of his training and stepping into the wilderness the soon to be Son of God, must first become the Son of Man, he would need to light the unknown of humanity. He waited for the hand of God to paint yet another picture. Suddenly the paint brush guided by the hand of God touched Jesus and he fell to the ground with a crushing pain in his heart. Fighting for each breath, he desperately fought for life opening his eyes he found himself in a strange place. He was lying on his back suspended off the floor by bed of some kind of strings leading from his chest to strange box with colored lights wavy green lines. The room was painted white, all was quiet. “Your husband has had a very severe heart attack.”
From the dark unknown a sinister evil hand reached out and grabbed the fragile life and began pulling it. The silence was broken by strange noises and people rushing around. A voice sounded, “We have a code blue in exam one, code blue exam one.”
The room grew dark with the darkness came the iciness of a life fading to nothingness. A familiar voice hissed, “I have won, I have defeated God’s own Son, never again will light shine forth from heaven, I have won.” And the Master’s heart stopped.
Then in less than a heartbeat from a place where even death can not go, from his will to become the Messiah, from his will to save humanity a strange power, gripped the lifeless form and pulled. An excited voice rang out, “We have a faint heartbeat!” And the struggle between life and death raged. And the Master’s heart beat stronger and stronger as the darkness of death gave way to the light of life.
Stroke after stroke the brush of the Great Artist moved again and again and Jesus experienced the pain of broken relationships, the emptiness of shattered hopes, the discouragement of broken dreams, and the fear of loneliness. With each stroke of the brush a portrait emerged, a portrait of victory, a portrait of a man hanging on a cross. Jesus stepped forward for a closer look and discovered the picture to be a mosaic of millions and millions of faces and lives he also recognized the person in the portrait, it was him.
For the longest time Jesus stood motionless looking toward the heavens. A familiar voice began talking, “Go my son, and take all unknowns with you so everyone will know that in you the darkness of life is illuminated.”
The afternoon sun was relentless and unforgiving as it heated everything it touched. After walking for several hours the young man from Galilee sat down on a large boulder to rest. Smiling he said to himself, “If I’d known I was walking in this forsaken place I’d have left it out of creation.”
All of a sudden it began to feel as if God were no longer with him. Slowly, ever slowly he realized that he was on his own. Everywhere he looked he saw evidence of God, yet it still felt as if he walked alone. It was a new feeling for him, suddenly the one on who humanity would put its faith felt the importance of faith. And the Son of God, became the Son of Man, completely, he would not feel this way for another three years when he would hang on a wooden cross.
“Father, I know you are near because I can see the evidence. I am hungry, not for food but for you. I am thirsty, not for water but for your Spirit. Never in my life have I had to walk completely as a human, never in my life have I had to walk alone. I now understand why it is so important that I fulfill the work that you have sent me to do.” With tears running down his cheeks the very human Jesus began walking.
The farther he walked into the wilderness the rougher became the terrain. Soon he found himself walking up a steep rocky hill. Step by step he inched his way up, stopping briefly to wipe the sweat from his face. Stepping on a loose rock he lost his footing and began tumbling and rolling back down the hill. Each rock he just used as a stepping stone became an immovable object inflicting great pain. Down and down he fell explosion after explosion went off in his head. He finally came to rest at the same point he started his climb.
He tried to move, but the pain was too much and his head was spinning out of control, he tried a second time with the same results. Deciding to just lie quiet for a few minutes he closed his eyes and let his mind wander. In less than a heartbeat he found himself no longer lying at the bottom of a rocky hill but walking through a garden, a beautiful garden. He instantly recognized it as the Garden of Eden, the Garden of Creation. He heard voices.
“Did God tell you you’d die if you ate from this tree,” one voice said.
“Not exactly,” the other voice replied, “He told Adam we would.”
“Well Adam must not have heard all of what God was telling him then, because the whole story is that if you eat from this tree you will surely die, but in an instant you will be reborn and know the same things God knows. You would like to be on God’s level wouldn’t you?”
“But what he said is what he said, and I don’t want to die. It would be nice to know all what he knows, but what you’re asking is that I go against his word.”
With the sound of the first voice Jesus knew what was happening, he also knew he was powerless to do anything. Over and over the scene played itself before his advent into the world, but somehow the lesson seemed new to him.
“Listen, see how beautiful I am. I have come from the throne room of God himself to assist you. God wishes to communicate further with you and Adam but he can not because he is high above you. Please go get Adam and do not delay.”
By this time Jesus was in a position where he could observe yet he couldn’t be seen. He helplessly watched Eve depart and moments later reappear with Adam. He held his breath as she reached for a piece of fruit, he watched as the excitement and anticipation grew in each of their faces. Eve moved the fruit from the tree toward her mouth it seemed like all time stopped, like all of heaven and creation waited, she took a bite then handed it to Adam, he took a bite. Suddenly the beautiful serpent that confronted Eve fell to the ground and before his eyes turned ugly, never before had such an ugly creature inhabited the Garden of Creation. Momentarily stunned by its sudden change of appearance the serpent laid motionless.
Jesus cried out in great pain, his voice echoed and thundered throughout the Garden of Creation and a great change began to occur. Gone was the beautiful green grass, gone was the thick lush green forest, gone were the beautiful wild flowers, gone were the rambling streams.
Adam and Eve stood erect looking down at the battered and bruised shepherd, suddenly they were gone leaving the shepherd and the serpent. In a low evil hiss the serpents voice called out, “Your next.” And it slithered away. Jesus knew he would be back, he also knew as before the serpent would never win, never.
Jesus tried twice more to get to his feet but his legs would not home him up. Pulling himself along the ground he found a rock that was shaped like a pillow. “Ouch,” he said out loud as his head fell to the rock a little too hard.
Soon the Son of God fell asleep and dreamed a dream. Feeling the sun warming his face he opened his eyes and looked directly into it, he did not blink. Suddenly it opened and something began moving toward him, it was a ladder. Watching and waiting Jesus lie on the ground as the ladder moved through the vastness of space and stopped next to him. Looking heavenward again the young Prince of Peace watched as angels started down the ladder. A short time later the first one stepped to the cold hard earth and began ministering to the wounds on his left leg. Another arrived and began ministering to the wounds on his right leg. As the angels touched his wounds they would instantaneously be healed and in the place of the pain he would feel peace and love. No one spoke and there was a hush over all creation. Soon he regained his strength, and then his hunger and thirst were gone.
One by one the angels returned up the ladder and as the last one entered the doorway in the sun the ladder too moved heavenward. As he watched the ladder disappear into the sun the Son of God saw his Father’s face, “Well done my Son, well done.” And the door closed.
As Jesus awoke the next morning he was refreshed, the cuts and bruises on his legs and arms were gone. His head was no longer spinning or ached, he was not hungry nor was he thirsty. Arising to his knees he bowed his head, “Father, I thank you for seeing to my needs. I thank you that I may be the one to carry humanity up the rough rocky climb through life.” And Jesus stood to his feet and with renewed effort and strength walked to the top of the steep hill using its roughness to help his ascent. Looking back down he could see the faces of humanity climbing right behind him.
Turning and facing the other side of the hill he found himself walking through the streets of a large city. Instantly he felt out place, a dark cloud hung overhead. The people were adorned with all sorts of jewelry, fine linen clothes, and an arrogance that radiated from each person. Ahead he heard a commotion and moved in its direction.
“People of Sodom, here me well and hear the word of the Lord your God,” a prophet was saying. “Sodom a once mighty city has gone astray and denied the power of God. You have become evil in the sight of the Lord. You have perverted the good name of your Creator. You worship things instead of God, you are children of Satan. You kill the prophets; you cast out the poor so they perish in the wilderness. Unless you repent of your evil ways, you will reap the consequences of Divine Justice.”
As Jesus watched the scene unfolding it appeared as if no one was listening, nobody had stopped to listen, no one even looked up. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a stone about two inches in diameter flying through the air in slow motion He moved toward the prophet to warn him when suddenly, WHAM! It caught the prophet in the side of the head and down he went in a heap. At the time an explosion went off inside of Jesus’ head and down he went. Jesus could hear the prophet still pleading with the people to repent, telling them that a fate much worse than his awaited them.
The people of Sodom heard the words, but they did not listen they looked at the prophet but they did not see his love and concern for them. For an instant the mighty city became still, there was no sound, no movement then Sodom’s people sealed their fate. The whisper of stones in flight pierced the still air and broke the silence, and then a strange dull thud sounded as each stone hit the prophet. Then all fell silent again.
Jesus cried out in pain, “O you faithless and perverse people why do you follow the dictates of your own sinful hearts. You who kill the prophets sent to save you have become children of the darkness and all heaven cries, and all hell awaits your fate.” And the prophet died. And Sodom was consumed in a blinding flash of light leaving the Son of God standing alone on a hill, still crying.
And he turned and walked away he thought about his life with Mary and Joseph, relishing those fond memories when as a family they would set and rehearse the stories of the Old Testament. He remembered his father telling him the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. “The day will come, my son when the evilness of Sodom and Gomorrah will no longer haunt the earth,” he recalled his father saying.
“I miss you father,” Jesus said aloud. A few minutes later he found himself walking in a beautiful forest of tall stately trees. The scent of wild flowers filled his nostrils, and the melody of the doves singing praises of God warmed his spirit. He recognized that he was walking in the Garden of Hope. He could feel the strength of the tall trees as they stretched heavenward straining to touch the face of God. As he took deep breaths and inhaled the sweet fragrance of the flowers life became sweet. And he joined the doves and praised God for the Garden of Hope.
“Heavenly Father,” he prayed, “I ordain this garden to all who enter, to all who walk without hope. May it be a spiritual journey, a spiritual interlude where they can be renewed from the minute by minute, day by day burdens of their lives.” Smiling and sitting down under a beautiful tree he thought of the reunion that awaited him with his father Joseph.
As he looked around he could see past the limits of the garden and into the vast regions of the wilderness he knew that’s where he belonged, he knew that people were lost and unable to find their way to its beauty, to its peace. The Son of Man looked heavenward the heavens opened and he beheld the face of God, and God too smiled. Then just as before a ladder made it way to earth and stopped in front of him. Angels began the long trek down and ministered to Jesus. Michael the arch angel was one of them. “Michael, why did Father send you?” Jesus inquired.
“The enemy draws near and just as all mankind needs some protection from him I have been sent to protect you. It is good to see you my Lord,” the Arch Angel responded.
“It is good to see you too. Father thinks of everything doesn’t he?”
“Yes he does. Please get some rest now you’ll need all your strength for the remainder of your journey.”
As Jesus lay under the star filled sky sleep did not come easy. In the distance he could hear the sounds of the night singing to him, yet he could also hear the sound of a storm brewing. As he tossed and turned be began to hear the sounds of singing in the distance then suddenly the sky burst forth with a choir of angels and peace of the Father wonderful, beautiful peace sent by God filled his spirit. As the man named Jesus slept the greatest mystery of all continued to unfold as he dreamed line upon line, precept upon precept helping him to fulfill his destiny to become the Son of God. As Jesus slept Michael standing guard over him became alert to evil presence hovering close by.
“Yes I am, do not come any closer,” Michael replied readying himself for battle.
Blinding himself to the ever increasing strength of the sleeping man the Evil one seethed back, “Do not worry my friend, the time isn’t right the man is not weak enough, but just as Adam weakened he will too and when he does all of heaven will too and I will win. Even Michael the Great Arch Angel will weaken and then I will take my vengeance on you and I will become God.”
With the speed of lightning the Beast brandished a flaming sword. Reacting with unmatched speed Michael’s sword appeared as if out of nowhere. Each facing the other. Each at the ready. Pride versus Humility. Evil verses Good. Darkness and Deception versus Light and Truth. Oppression versus Freedom. Death versus Life. And time waited as eternity squared off.
To the casual observer it would be nearly impossible to tell the opponents apart the Beast appeared as an angel of light and could pass as a twin for Michael. A closer look revealed just the opposite facial features appeared the same, yet facial expressions revealed just the opposite. The wrinkles on his forehead were signs of hate. The tightness of lower jaw revealed unbridled anger. There was no sparkle in his eyes only callousness and captivating darkness. Without warning in one rapid effortless motion his sword moved from behind him toward the Arch Angel. As it moved swiftly toward its target the voices of millions of demons screamed in unison.
With a speed never before witnessed by the Beast Michael’s sword suddenly appeared right where it needed to be and a voice reverberated across the threshold of time and eternity, “Not now Michael!” Again with unparalleled speed Michael re-positioned his sword to a defensive position. The swords met, there was a tremendous explosion. The hate within the Beast raged and powered him as never before, yet the power of God would never be matched and sent the Beast’s sword crashing to the ground. And all fell silent, all went still.
Hate and anger raged, suddenly the Beast was gone. Michael turned and watched his sleeping Load and smiled and looking at the sword on the ground, “You have deceived even yourself Beast, Jesus is getting stronger each day. You will never win, you can never win.”
When Jesus awoke the next morning Michael and all the other angels were gone. Turning around he found himself standing on a mountain. A loud voice caught his attention, “Prophets of Baal where is your god? Perhaps he sleeps or perhaps he is preoccupied shout louder surly you can get his attention!”
He helplessly watched as a large vast number of men danced, sang songs, and chanted, “O god of wisdom, O god of might, O god of power, heed and answer the need of your loyal subjects!” And all stopped and became quiet.
“Where is the mighty god of Jezebel? Shout louder prophets sing your songs chant your chants and dance your dance for I Elijah and all of Israel patiently awaits Baal’s arrival!”
With anger and resentment the prophets of Baal resumed their ritual. Soon they were dancing, singing, and chanting into such frenzy they began to inflict physical damage to their bodies. And tears formed in Jesus’ eyes and he cried, “Father, please forgive them for they have been blinded by the Prince of Evil.” And again all fell silent.
As the scene continued to unfold Jesus watched as Elijah built an altar of stone and put a sacrifice on it. He told the prophets of Baal to soak the altar, the sacrifice, and the ground with water and stood back. “O God let it be known this day that you are the God of yesterday, today, and forever. Let it also be known throughout time that you are a God of power and justice. Amen.” As if someone turned out the lights darkness fell on the crowd and with it came a haunting silence. Time stood still. Ahab, all of Israel, and all the prophets of Baal stood in fear and waited.
Jesus looked heavenward and through the darkness could see the hand of God moving in judgment. Lightning flashed and exploded into the ground with such force that it knocked all Israel to the ground. Darkness and silence again fell on the land. Jesus heard the prophet pray, “That all Israel may know that you are a God of light, let there be light.” And there was light, but the altar, the sacrifice, and the water were gone. All Israel dropped to its knees. Elijah still trembling at the power of God commanded the people to capture the prophets of Baal and the fallen prophets we taken to Wadi Kishon where they were never seen again.
Deep inside Jesus wondered why it was necessary for him be a witness to events his father Joseph had taught him. Is not knowledge sufficient? There was no reply only silence.
Hearing that Jezebel vowed to kill him Elijah became angry with God. “Why have abandoned me God? Did I not do your bidding? Did I not prove that you are the God of the whole earth? In your name did I not slay the prophets of Baal to prove your power and justice? Now when Jezebel seeks to take my life you turn your back on me. Why have you forsaken me?” And the once mighty prophet ran into the wilderness.
After a days journey into the wilderness Elijah prophet of God became tired and weary. Resting under a broom tree he prayed, “I have had enough God, I am tired of running, I am tired of being afraid, I am tired to trying to reach out to a people who do not listen. Take my miserable life I just don’t have what it takes to go on.” Soon sleep provided Elijah with a temporary escape.
“Strange,” Jesus thought ,”How could a man made so strong by faith feel as if God had abandoned him?” Just before falling asleep himself one thing spoken by Elijah haunted him, “Why have you forsaken me.” Thirty three years later while hanging on a cross Jesus would remember.
Waking before Elijah Jesus prepared Elijah’s breakfast. “Elijah wake up eat and drink for your journey will be long and tiring.” Jesus knew that God had not deserted Elijah he also knew the longer Elijah believed it the more dangerous it became. Elijah did not wake up.
“Elijah wake up God has not abandoned you, you must arise and eat and drink. God wants to you to come to Mount Horeb and it is a long journey,” Jesus called again. Elijah stirred a little sat up took a few bites of food a small drink and fell back asleep.
“Wake up Elijah a far worse fate awaits you than Jezebel if you continue to believe God has deserted you. He patiently awaits you on Horeb.” Jesus knew God could meet him here but he also knew that the discipline of the journey would strengthen the prophet’s faith so strong nothing would shake it. The journey would also be a time for repentance.
Jesus reached out and touched him and he woke up, “I have prepared a meal for you so you will be strong, my Father in heaven will meet with you on Horeb.” Elijah never spoke a word, after eating he began a forty day and forty night journey to meet God. Years later on another mountain Jesus and Elijah would talk about their brief encounter and the forty day journey each made. As he watched the older man disappear into the wilderness the young Messiah rested, thanked his Father and wondered what awaited him next. It didn’t take long.
Jesus found himself standing in a valley. As far as he could see there were tall buildings reaching toward the sky, finely paved roads and what appeared to be bones. He began running through the streets searching for life. In and out of building after building he looked but each time there were only remnants of lives that once flourished. Faster and faster he ran desperately looking for life but there was none to be found. Finally stopping to rest he sat down to contemplate what to do next a man walked up a stood before him.
“Son of man, can these buildings, streets and bones that once supported life live again?” the stranger asked.
“You and you alone know the answer to that sir,” Jesus replied.
“Son of man do you not know that you hold the power of life and death in your hands. Prophesy to these bones that they would once again support life,” the man replied.
Standing to his feet Jesus began, “Oh, dry bones here the word of the one who has power over life and death. I will again breathe into you the power to live and with this breath will come life eternal, behold the wind of God.” Suddenly there was a rushing wind blowing from the north, from the south, from the east, and from the west followed by the sounds of bones rattling. Before him stood a numberless array of skeletons, but no life the wind continued to blow until the skeletons turned into people, yet there was no life.
Turning to the stranger, “I have prophesied and there and signs of life yet there is still no life in this city.”
Standing before him the stranger extended his arms and said, “Behold, know this day that you have received the power to give life.” Against the backdrop of silence the ringing of a hammer hitting a nail could be heard and Jesus fell to his knees as a stabbing pain shot through his hands, feet, and side. Getting back on his feet he looked for the stranger but he was gone.
“Son of man prophesy to this world that it may have life,” a voice called out, Jesus recognized the voice.
Before he could begin to prophesy an evil voice rang out, “Behold this world lives.” Suddenly the figures came to life. People were going to and fro and the streets swarmed with moving objects carrying people. Yet Jesus sensed angry and hostility, there was no peace, no happiness, no joy, there was no order only chaos. “Leave this world while you can it does not need the life you offer. I am all it needs.”
A dense fog began moving in choking out the light, all fell silent. “Leave this world while you can it does not need you,” a million demonic voice shouted. And darkness settled on the scene. The demons of greed, hate, and oppression grew stronger and stronger with the increasing darkness.
The young Messiah began searching, asking, begging, pleading for someone to help him, to support him. His search was in vain. There were ones that loved, yet no one came forward. And Jesus cried. And the demons laughed. However, with all their attention focused on Jesus they failed to see or feel the approaching legions of angels headed by Michael. Stopping just outside the dense black fog the angels made ready to rescue their beloved Master. “Now Lord?” Michael shouted.
“Do not be so enthusiastic Michael, your time will come but not now,” came the reply. The angels relaxed and waited.
In spite of the great odds Jesus stood his ground the lessons of the wilderness taught him well. He raised his arms looked through the clouds at the waiting army and shouted, “Let the Light of Life shine upon the darkness of this world, let the peace and unity of the Father and the Son rein upon the face of the valley. Father into thy hands I commit my life and my Spirit.” There was a blinding flash of light driving the demons and the fog into the outer darkness and the world came to life. A young man named Jesus walked out of the wilderness and became the Messiah.