In the Bible the desert is a place of punishment and discipline, but also of blessing and love's reawakening. Both Jesus and the people of Israel before him spent time in the desert, learning what it meant to be chosen and loved and holy. Yet while the people of the Exodus frequently got it wrong, providing some cautionary tales for us to learn from, Jesus himself constantly got it right, offering a perfect model for us to follow. In The Way of the Desert Andrew Watson takes us on a Lenten journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Day, from the parting of the Red Sea to Israel's entry into the promised land. Combining these Old Testament scriptures with insight from the Gospels, he reveals the continuing relevance of the exodus story to all who would seek to follow Christ. The author writes: 'It became the must-have accessory among Christian young people in the 1990s: a rubber wristband cryptically inscribed with the letters WWJD. A hundred years earlier, Charles Sheldon, American pastor and Christian Socialist, had written a book entitled What Would Jesus Do? and the initials on the wristbands picked up just the same question.
Whatever situations we face in life - whatever decisions we are called upon to make - the issue of WWJD is vital for the Christian disciple. Jesus' call, after all, is to "follow me".' 'As a church leader at the time when WWJD wristbands were selling by the truckload, I was therefore positive about this simple summons to Christian thinking and discipleship. My only reservation was that WWJD seemed to beg a prior question, and one on which our young people appeared increasingly hazy, namely "What Did Jesus Do?" Short of marketing my own range of WDJD wristbands there were limited means to get my message across, though I mentioned it in the odd sermon at the time. But the danger of asking speculative questions about Jesus without rooting them clearly in the Jesus of the Gospels is a real one. How easy to construct a Jesus of my own making, a pocket Jesus (or idol, to use the Bible's own term), who conveniently seems to share my views on politics, religion, money and relationships, without making me feel uncomfortable or challenged at all!' 'As we approach Lent, the question "What did Jesus do?" yields some interesting answers, for the 40 days of Lent reflect the period that Jesus spent in the wilderness following his baptism and before the start of his public ministry.
It's a period briefly mentioned by the Gospel writer Mark (1:12 - 13) and described in greater detail by fellow evangelists Matthew (4:1 - 11) and Luke (4:1 - 13). So what did Jesus do in what we could call the first Lent?'