Viento Borrascoso

"The whole land was a desert . . . "

THE WHOLE LAND was a desert. Indoors, outdoors, nothing but sand and hot, dry wind. Driven into the wilderness, Jesus fasted and afterward, hungered, He was tempted by the devil. But the devil wasn’t just in the wilderness, he’d taken over the Jordan, the temple, the people. Twisted, crooked minds, bent spines, diseased skin, what spoke from men was the devil. Even in the synagogue. It says the people were astonished at Jesus’ teaching because He had authority. Astonished.

How far do we have to let it all go? Until the devil speaks? “I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God (Mark 1:24).” The demons knew who Jesus was. Men didn’t. They didn’t even know why He’d have such authority. It says when Jesus went out masses of people gathered. Multitudes. Bringing their sick, their possessed. An entire nation, a mingled nation, other nations amongst them, drawn to the authority in one man who spoke and things happened.

Historians say it’d been 400 some years since the last prophet when John showed up. In the desert. Dressed like a prophet. (Dutch Sheets, “Prophets are WEIRD.” And he meant that positive.) But John was from a priestly line. He was supposed to be serving like dad did. Instead, he’s preaching Christ and repentance of sins in a land where there’s no water. Not a drop.

Later, Jesus goes into Samaria and speaks of the fountain of living water that shall never run dry, that being the Spirit of God, the presence of God. I joked one morning that Jesus was the bucket. He was the way to get to the water. But when He showed up there wasn’t even a well. The well had gone dry and inside the Holy of Holies was a lot of gold and grandeur, words without profit, unjust opinions, and clearly murderous hate. Because all it took was one drop of rain and the spiders came out.

I hate spiders. There are NO spiders in heaven. I’m sure of it.

Mark 1 you have a desert from the wilderness to the city and into men’s homes. You have dry wind and dry people, diseased and tortured, and a cloud of Pharisees who do nothing but rumble and threaten without producing any rain. Satan’s ruling amongst them, around them, through them, doing what Jesus said in John he’d learned to do: steal, kill, and destroy. Then John speaks and the Spirit of God, which was in him since before birth, is blowing hot through the desiccated landscape. A flood creating ripples in the sand, shifting rocks, dragging all that shouldn’t be downstream where it belongs.

“The floods have lifted up, O LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their waves. The LORD on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea.” (Psalms 93:3-4)

There came a cleansing, of the heart and soul, of the synagogue, of the streets, of the minds. Now flip to Mark 15, and six times, Jesus is called the King of the Jews or the King of Israel. Jesus came to save the world, but also to establish Israel. Pilate saw it. He hung it over Jesus’ head. The people denied it. The Pharisees wanted it reworded. Yes, please. Let’s do that. It didn’t change the facts. Jesus’ genealogy tree in Matthew is a line of kings.

What begins in the Spirit doesn’t end on the cross but changed the desert that the people had accepted, and a commission is given by the One who was dead then wasn’t. Jesus looks them in the eye and says, “Go ye into all the world.” The world then known was relatively small and mostly Roman. Jesus Himself had prophesied the temple’s demise. The Romans had a policy to allow variant people to worship as they pleased. It was actually forbidden for anyone not Roman (a man born in Rome the city, only) to worship Roman gods (men born outside of Rome were Italians, a lesser people in their eyes). So the Jews could worship their God and do to Jesus, the man they hated, as they pleased, as they wished, except they said they couldn’t crucify.

They could stone. They’d tried this already at this point and Jesus walked right through them. So what was the point? Why force Rome to do it? Rome would go on to found the largest Christian church, Catholicism, and accept everything they denied. Why hang their King on a Roman cross? Location mattered, that it was outside the Jerusalem gate. Method mattered, that it was as a criminal on a tree. How it enacted matters. (Read “Lamb of God” Their version of His sacrifice was sloppy and diseased, like their hearts. But why Rome? Because this had to be the most public, most painful humiliation, and no one paid attention to the Jews anymore.

Who are these people anyway? Men have been asking that since. Hitler killed how many in his delusion? And how many persecuted in other places? How much hate is there still between generations and a King who died for them in a desert that had become a spring that they desperately tried to dry up again. You can’t stop the flow of the fountain. Now it’s filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, and the King of Israel, the King of the Jews, has become the King of Kings and we’re still shifting sand and pointing fingers. That man said. That woman did. That church is. Those people are. That nation is. Our nation is. Head shaking and butt cracks. Pull your pants up and stand tall. Put your coat on.

“And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; And Solomon begat Roboam; and Roboam begat Abia; and Abia begat Asa; And Asa begat Josaphat; and Josaphat begat Joram; and Joram begat Ozias; And Ozias begat Joatham; and Joatham begat Achaz; and Achaz begat Ezekias; And Ezekias begat Manasses; and Manasses begat Amon; and Amon begat Josias; And Josias begat Jechonias and his brethren, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:” (Matthew 1:6-11)

In Jesus’ genealogy there’s also a prostitute. And weird cousin John of the priest family who’d turned prophet. Him Jesus said was the Elias prophesied to them. And now, reading the gospels, tax collectors, a woman taken in adultery, a centurion (they killed people, you know), more than a few Pharisees, one of which wrote most of the New Testament and admitted he’d murdered people. Fishermen, farmers, lepers. A demoniac. Samaritans. Egyptians.

That part of the promise to Abraham they forgot. He is the father of NATIONS. And we’re back to Jesus’ words to the disciples. GO YE. Not COME YE. Come ye into the church building walls and bring your cell phone for the salvation QR code. No, GO YE INTO ALL THE WORLD. He said this to men who would have to physically travel to get there and risk their lives again and again and, all but John the beloved, die a horrible martyr’s death. But at what expense?

None at all. They counted their lives as nothing to win souls to Christ. Peter, a Galilean fisherman, preached to devout Jews. Paul, a devout Jew, preached to heathen Gentiles. The irony smacks you in the face, and the Spirit of God which swept through the desert built an ocean, not of tiny ships, but of water walking people, unafraid to GO YE so that COME YE would become big news.

Why isn’t today’s church drawing in the lost? Why aren’t there hundreds, thousands, at the altar call, and people entering to find out who Jesus is? We talk revival for ourselves but leave the door open for the desert to blow in. God is spirit, and the Holy Spirit is among us, as water in a dry and thirsty land. At the Jordan, in the city market, on the hillsides, in the Gentile towns, and on one foundational day, in the temple when the veil ripped from top to bottom.

Is God asking you to crawl to China or just across the street? | “Crawl To China,” Tourniquet

“I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 1:9)

Photo by Andreas Rasmussenon Unsplash

Suzanne D. Williams, Author