Jesus quite often went into the wilderness and desolate places. It was perhaps the only time he could get a moment of space to pray and speak to God. In this section of scripture he goes into a desolate place but is followed by the people who would have kept him from departing if they could. But Jesus said to them that he had to preach the good news in other towns for that was the reason he was sent.
Jesus was sent by God the Father to preach the good news of salvation to all of mankind. He came to commence this ministry and to spread the word and to call others to service as disciples to then continue to spreading the gospel. Clearly it was and is still well received when you consider that from one man, Jesus, there are now in the vicinity of over two billion people who call themselves Christians today.
In spite of the divisions among the churches over forms of worship and differences in doctrine, the fact is that at the foundation of all Christian belief is Jesus Christ himself. The essence of the Good News of the gospel is the fact that Jesus Christ came to offer mankind salvation from sin and freedom from bondage. There is no other way that any person can be set free from the passions and bondages of human nature, and especially from sin, than through knowing Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. Sure some people can gain release from physical addictions and bondages like alcoholism, drug addiction, nicotine and the like, but no man by himself can be set free from sin and the desires of the flesh.
The Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers this freedom. And best of all, it is a gift. You do not work for it, you cannot buy it, you cannot do anything to get it. You only need to accept it by faith.
But what should you believe? What is the basis of this faith that we are asked to accept about the life and message of Jesus Christ? How do you find this truth when there is such division in the churches over what is or is not the truth of Jesus Christ?
Well far be it from me to condemn the teachings of any of the churches for they all have something to offer, even if it is only a place to find Jesus. But it is important for every person to seek out their own salvation. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as Counsellor, comforter, teacher and guide so that we can find the truth. So the starting point is to ask Jesus for the Holy Spirit to work in your life and bring you understanding. Read the bible and take in his teachings for the word contains the truth of the Gospel and the words of God to guide all of us.
You may actually need to step outside of the churches to find the truth. The writer of Hebrews shows us this as an analogy when speaking about the death of Jesus. He wrote in Hebrews 13:11-13 the following words:
11 For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp.
12 So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.
13 Therefore let us go forth to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured.
When the animals used in the blood sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem were burned they were taken out of the temple and out of the city to be burned. Likewise when Jesus suffered and died for us he was taken out of the city and put to death. The analogy here is that as the animal bodies were taken out and away from the temple, Jesus too was taken away and out from the temple. The animals gave their blood as sacrifice for sin and Jesus gave his blood as sacrifice for our sin, and much more too. Thus the writer tells us to go out from the temple and perhaps to step away from organised religion so that we can find the Saviour.
Am I saying that Jesus cannot be found in the churches? Absolutely not! What I am saying though is that you may find the Saviour, but to advance in Christ and to learn the truth may require you to look outside of the comfort of the church. There are many things taught in many churches that are not in accordance with the truth of the gospel. To find the truth might require you to stand outside the church because your salvation cannot rely on anyone else but yourself and Jesus Christ.
On the Day of Judgement there will be no advocate between you and God, no priest, pastor, minister, clergy or whatever. On the final day it will be you alone standing before the Lord to give account and thus you may need to step outside the church to find the truth about Jesus and where you stand. Jesus went into the wilderness and sometimes we need to go into the wilderness as well.
(Picture sourced from stock.xchng http://www.sxc.hu/ taken by Billy Alexander)