At the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry he was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness where he remained, fasting and no doubt praying, until the devil came and tempted him. The purpose of this time spent in this particular was known to him – he had been brought here “to be tempted.”
It is impossible for us to comprehend what this time must have been like for Jesus. He had not yet called the first of his disciples. This was probably the Judaean desert since it apparently was near Jerusalem where the temple was located. He would have been some distance from his family and friends. Why was Jesus left alone in this place, and especially at this time. What value, if any, was there in quietness or stillness for him?
One could hardly say that Jesus did anything that was a waste of time or that had no purpose. So it must have been some purpose for him to have spent those lonely weeks and days and hours in the wilderness. That that time and situation was preparatory for the ordeal he was going to endure and the work that lay ahead surely is obvious. He would be facing greater temptation than any other man had ever faced.
Actually, at other times Jesus spent a great amount of time alone with his Father. Often that time was spent in prayer.
Matt 14:23 “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,”
Luke 5:16 “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
Luke 6:12 “In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.”
On occasion he invited his disciples into moments of solitude and prayer.
Mark 6:31 “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
Luke 9:28 “Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray.”
In a Psalm which details the turmoil of the nations in the throes of the judgment of God, the Lord invites his people to … “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10). That is not only an interesting instruction from God, but one we should ponder and practice.
Be still and know that I am God. In order to properly comprehend what we may know of God it is imperative that we devote our minds and hearts fully to him. We cannot do that while we are concerned with the bustle and business of everyday affairs.
While we may be concerned with the tangled affairs of our world with all its hatred, vice, violence, greed and crime, the failures of government and the increasingly evident immorality of our society, worrying and fretting about such things will not change a thing. We need to be still – drop all that, lay it aside, forget it – and be still before God. When we in quiet reflection behold the power and justice of our Creator it will give us a calm assurance that will transcend the mundane.Be still and know that in his power and justice all that is amiss in the whole of creation will one day be set right.
In our busyness, we tend to focus on our limitations, our inability to get the things done we think just absolutely must be done. We worry, we stew, we fret and get ulcers for our trouble. To put things in perspective and see how pitifully paltry our concerns are we should learn to “be still and know” that he is God and that he is in control.
In our egotism we sometimes are overawed with our own importance. We want others to know how important we are and are resentful when they don’t give us the respect we think we are due. At times when we are tempted to overestimate our importance we should be still and know that God is infinitely greater than we and that we are as nothing before him. The only legitimate claim to importance that we may make is that he has loved us so much that his Son died for our salvation. But this is humbling to those who are honest about it. We need to be still and know the love of God.
When we are tempted to think prejudicially of people of a different nationality, race, gender, ethnicity, political preference, religion or any other external, extraneous distinctive we need to be still at the foot of the cross of the Son of God and know that in the eyes of the Creator and redeemer we are all equal. God made us with our distinctive characteristics, not to identify some as inferior but because he loves variety and diversity. Be still and know!
When we are quiet before God we cannot hide behind the facade we so often erect to fool our fellow man. He is not fooled if we attempt to deceive him. When there is just us and God we must be honest with ourselves as to our own sinfulness and weakness. Be still and know our dependence on God for everything we have and everything we are!
It is when we are before him that we also come face to face with ourselves as we are. This is not a bad thing. Only when we see him as he is can we see ourselves as we are. Only when we face up to our own sin before him that our feeble excuses dissolve away leaving us naked and vulnerable. It is at this point that God can come into our lives and begin to build it according to his design and after his likeness. Be still and know the transformation of sanctification God is working in our lives!
And it is only in moments like this when we are still, quiet, acquiescent that we learn what it means to put our trust in him. When we do this, then we begin to grow and to become more and more like him.
We really need to practice quietness. It is a rare thing these days what with all the noise and distraction in the world. Set aside time each day to be by yourself with God. Meditate on his loveliness, his holiness, his perfection. Let that quietness saturate your soul. Let calm flow over you. Would that the whole world would take time each day to just “be still.”
Hab. 2:20 “But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him.”