Answering the Call
It can be jarring, offensive to talk about Jesus having to learn and grow in wisdom…even more to think of him working through his own human obsessive-compulsive drives to a place of presence, balance, emotional regulation.
Though we were taught, at least implicitly, a fully self-aware Jesus lying in the manger, the gospels tell a very different story. That Jesus was human in every way that we are, had to work through every development we all do. No shortcuts.
When the Spirit drives Jesus into the wilderness, he was being called to a hero’s journey, the personal growth cycle always initiated by loss or insight stark enough to devastate our self-narrative, our view of the world as we know it. We don’t have to answer this call—most of us don’t the first dozen or so times. Some never do. To answer the call is to leave our old, too-small world and security behind to face a new world we know nothing of, full of tasks we don’t know how to complete. But if we persevere and complete the cycle, we return where we started with interior gifts for those willing to receive.
Jesus answers his call and puts down the three symbolic “temptations” of our human need to be relevant, powerful, and spectacular, our drives for security and survival, power and control, affection and esteem. He finds his meaning and purpose in his identity with his Father who he can now call Abba out of intimate familiarity. He is so transformed by this journey, that his hometown neighbors who watched him grow up are astonished. Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?
But one hero’s gift is the next person’s call to their own journey, a challenge to their own narrative. For those not yet ready, not only unwelcome, but a threat to oppose. Violently.
Jesus’ hero-gift, gospel, declaration of hope to the brokenhearted, is the truth that we are all as loved, free, forgiven as we want to be. Right now. Today. But today is terrifying for those unready to leave their nets at the shore. Today demands decision, challenges the security of our narrative.
Jesus learned that the waiting is over, everything we need is already here.
Just need to answer the call to make it so.