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Christian Resources
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Explaining Biblical Themes
Jesus' Campaign Strategy





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Jesus' Campaign Strategy 

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts for the 40 weekdays before Easter. It is observed as a season of penitence when the time Jesus spent in the Judean desert coming to terms with his unique destiny is remembered  


Mark chapter1, verses 9 - 12 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.  


The account of what happened by the river Jordan must go back to Jesus himself. It was probably a profound personal experience and not a public event as later it seems to have been thought. It is not improbable that it was only when Jesus realised that his disciples were misunderstanding the work God had given him to do that he told three of his closest companions, Peter, James and John, when they were alone with him on the mountain and they experienced a change in his appearance and the presence of Moses and Elijah  


Mark chapter 9, verses 2 - 13 After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, "Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters--one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: "This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!" Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what "rising from the dead" meant. And they asked him, "Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."  


Matthew and Luke expand on Jesus's time in the desert 


Matthew chapter 3, verse 13 - chapter 4 verse 11 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" Jesus replied, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " `He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Jesus answered him, "It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test. " Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me." Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.'" Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.  

Luke chapter 3, verses 21 - 22 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."  

Luke chapter 4, verses 1 -13 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone'." The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, "I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours." Jesus answered, "It is written: `Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.' " The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down from here. For it is written: " `He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' " Jesus answered, "It says: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' " When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. 


Jesus knew people were expecting a Saviour King. A Messiah had been long expected. Would people accept him as in a unique relationship with God if he satisfied their material needs; took political power, browbeat them with amazing acts? Jesus knew that men and women need food for their minds and souls as well as for their bodies; that people cannot be compelled by force to accept ideas; that they soon come to expect greater and more amazing wonders. 

The only way he could bring men back to God was to demonstrate God's love for them. His strategy was to become a travelling rabbi, a teacher, going into towns and villages and standing by the Sea of Galilee preaching, teaching and healing. 

Mark sums up the Galilean campaign upon which Jesus now embarked:

The time has come
The kingdom of God is upon you
Repent
Trust in the Good News of God's love  

Christian Education Commitee , 2003

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