This is # 21 in the Crossing the Threshold series.
Act Two: Descent and Initiation
Crossing the Threshold
Act Two begins with a Threshold for our Hero to Cross; Jesus is led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It is so easy with our rational minds to read this in sort of ho hum nonchalant way. He was tempted by the devil and of course he is God so he passed the test..…period end of story. It changes everything when we think mythically. Jesus laid aside his divinity and became man, one with all the vulnerabilities of man. He fasts for forty days and forty nights becoming weak and hungry. Now the Devil, God of this World, Accuser, Apollyon, Angel of the Abyss, Murderer, Ruler of Darkness and Demons to name just a few of his names moves in, to tempt his prey. He is the Villain, the slithering serpent of old, the source of all evil who seduced Eve and destroyed Adam. Remember they were first God’s glorious created ones, vice-regents; royal priests of the Lord Most High that is before their tragic fall and corruption.
The Villain has pursued Jesus since birth; this will not be their last meeting.
Tests, Allies and Enemies
After successfully withstanding the wiles and temptations of the devil; Jesus returns to Galilee in the power of the Spirit. Having Crossed the Threshold he is now fully immersed in The Special World. Jesus chooses to commence his earthly mission by entering the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth. After reading from the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah Jesus proclaims his Call to literally be the Hero, the Messiah, the Jubilee of Israel, while at the same time he is a Herald inviting others into the Call. Immediately the room is divided between Allies who believe and receive his Call, and Antagonists who want to kill him. There is no middle ground with Jesus.
Approach to the Inmost Cave
During the three years of his ministry proclaiming the Kingdom of God Jesus is always headed in one direction; toward the final confrontation with civil and religious authorities in Jerusalem and the spiritual power that lies behind them.
The glory is returning to the temple from which it departed (Ezekiel 10), but in a way no one anticipated. It does not come with a Messiah on a white horse leading an army to destroy the Roman occupiers; rather it comes in an interesting prophet riding a donkey with a rag tag assortment of ordinary people following him into Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover Feast.
Jesus, the Passover Lamb Approaches the Inmost Cave not by an ascent but by a progressive descent; first to his knees in the garden of Gethsemane, then by being nailed to a Roman cross and finally by being lowered into a tomb.
Act Two began with descent and it climaxes with initiation. What was Jesus being initiated into? Death. We return to Paul’s letter to the Philippians; “and being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians2:8). The sentence of death rested upon all men; for all men were “in Adam”. All men came from his corrupt seed and all had fallen short of the glory of God. The one and only spotless lamb must be initiated into the death of all in order that “in Christ” all may be saved.
The mystery of the tomb remains just that a mystery. Scripture and creed proclaim that Jesus descended into the lowest parts of the earth. Like the mystery of a seed germinating and bringing forth new life, we will never know all that transpired during His three days in the tomb. We do know Jesus received a very great Reward. “Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).