Wilderness to Resurrection


By Nathan Esser

Lent is a season of 40 days that culminate with Easter and our celebration of Christ’s resurrection.   A season focused on self-examination, reflection and repentance, Lent invites us on a journey into the wilderness with Jesus.  Matthew, Mark and Luke describe Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness where he endures the hunger and thirst that stem from a prolonged fast. 

Jesus also encounters temptation in the wilderness.  Aware of the physical and spiritual intensity that Jesus endures, the devil offers Jesus a swift remedy.  In exchange for his allegiance, the wilderness journey would end; his longing would be satisfied and he wouldn’t have to endure anymore suffering.  If Jesus had accepted this offer there would have been no abandonment or trial.  And, there would have been no cross and no Easter.  The wilderness prepared Jesus for his crucifixion and demonstrated his strength and power as greater than the power of darkness and fear experienced by humanity. 

Our focus in worship throughout the season of Lent will be on the wilderness experience.  You will be invited on a wilderness journey where you will be encouraged to wrestle with the darkness of questions, fears, worries and anxiety. 


Keep in mind, this journey will lead us to Easter and a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.  Our honest wrestling throughout Lent will help us bring all of our hardship and suffering to the foot of the cross.  At the foot of the cross, we are able to admit our weakness and need for Jesus’ help.  At the foot of the cross, Jesus’ removes our burden from us; his strength to conquer death and sin through his resurrection, allows us to experience salvation and healing.  

Lent begins with an Ash Wednesday Service on March 6th at 7 pm.  The Presbyterian Churches in Sioux Falls will gather with us, in our Sanctuary.  Join us and take to heart the invitation to journey with Jesus through the wilderness.  Think about what you will bring with you.  Where are you holding on to hurt?  Are you wrestling with guilt or shame?  Are you stuck in a seemingly never ending valley of grief?  Are you afraid or anxious about your future?  Make sure to explore the following printable to help in taking time to slow down in prayer and seek restoration.

He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
— Mark 1:13

Walk with me on this wilderness journey and let us draw near to God through this time – all the while as we make our way to the great day of resurrection and life!

Nathan is the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Sioux Falls. He can be reached at nathanesser@fpcsiouxfalls.org.