Jesus’ First Desert Test: Misuse your power

God’s power over, in and through the natural elements is well documented. His word creates universes. Water changes at the molecular level into wine. Waves and winds immediately respond to his word. Everything material is completely surrendered to his control. This might be the reason for Jesus’ first desert test to be the invitation to misuse his power.

The devil seems to realize that Jesus is on the way to revealing the core qualities of His kingdom. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the humble and the merciful.” He will soon reveal.

Power, without poverty of spirit, meekness, mercy and humility, has proven to produce some of history’s most profound evil. The enemy of Jesus seeks to undermine His ministry by urging Him to step out of His nature and into a misuse of power.

Identifying one’s power is helpful in producing a well lived life. I’m not sure how one measures such things, however it feels to me like I have a lower middle class economic life by Alaska standards. In this way, I surely don’t have the power of the wealthy.

Yet, I am thinking of friends who work fourteen hours a day, seven days a week and earn, if they have an abundant day, ten dollars. Earning less than a dollar an hour is beyond my ability to comprehend and in this context I have a much different level of economic power.

Power differentials are often connected to race, gender, ethnicity, geography, religion, education and government capacities. NONE of these components of power differentials are in one’s control. You can not select your race, gender, ethnicity, geographical location (unless you have increased power), religion of your area, access to education and the skill and capacity of your government.

In matters of power differentials one is often powerless. Most of the world’s population is powerless to transform their power.

Jesus did not arrive on the scene and increase His follower’s power. He didn’t raise us up to His level, He humbled Himself and took on our powerlessness.

Homeless? Yes, He was. Hungry? Yes. An immigrant? Yes. Despised by others? Yes.

No one understands power differentials as well as Jesus does.

In Jesus we learn that power is multifaceted and often misdiagnosed. King Herod, Pilate, the Jewish High Priest and Rome held monopolies on one kind of power.

That kind of power is in the hands of the executioner’s hammer and nails. Powerless lay the King upon their rough hewn timbered cross.

There is another dimension that is mostly unknown to those drunk on power.

Jesus said of his life, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:18

The contrast is stark. Presumed and assumed power pales into nothingness when confronted with the genuine and authentic. Little did the power brokers of Jesus’ day understand that every hint of power within their grasp was on loan from the Man they held captive on the crucifier’s hill.

“All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Jesus declares.

Life’s most significant insights include the moment we realize the power under our influence is not ours, but His. Not for us to receive, but to give. Not to control but to manage. Not for our glory but for His.

The most powerful person in the room is the one who serves in poverty of spirit. Jesus’ first desert test was the unwise urging to abandon His poverty of spirit and misuse His power.

With “Jesus lens” our vision can be opened to the power differentials within our relationships (or non-relationships) and we can hear His voice inviting us to pass our first desert test.