Excerpted from The Holy Infancy (The Saviour of the World – Vol. 1)
by Charlotte M. Mason
Jesus in the Wilderness
Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost, returned
From Jordan, and straightway the Spirit driveth
Him forth to the wilderness. For forty days
There was he tempted of Satan, and nothing ate:
And He was with the wild beasts all the nights.
Most men have solemn hours of inward searching,
Dedicate purpose, ere they set themselves
To take up that lifework appointed them;—
How best its tasks fulfil, how ’scape its perils,
How worthily and for God’s glory work,
For service of men, too, and their own weal?
All men have chart to study, course mapped out
By other men who journeyed that same way:
Traditions, documents, books, wait on all
Who law or physic or a craftsman’s trade
Would follow; these, and the counsels of friends:
No man goeth forth on an unbeaten track.
But this Man, driven into the wilderness—
Not one had been the way that He must tread;
No common calling of mankind was His;
No waymarks of past travelers showed His path
Through perilous wilderness His calling led Him—
An-hungered, He, for grace and heavenly goodness,
Of wild beasts beset, of Satan hindered:—
Those forty days were as the years to come.
Alone, the winepress trod He: “was there, then,
Nor chart nor compass for His way prepared?
The Scriptures of His people! There was traced,
On hundred luminous sheets, his heavy road.
No man had been His way, nor any should;
No man had done His work, nor any could:
But earthly father sets, plain-writ, the tasks
His son must learn: even so had God the Father,
Throughout the ages, thought upon His Son;
And given to chosen men to write in Book,
A little here, and there a little more,
All guiding precepts that the Christ alone
Should know to follow: vicissitudes had marked
On that untraveled land, unvoyaged sea,
Whereon must go the Saviour of the World.
What He should speak, how minister, how suffer,—
These things the counsels of God had occupied
Ere prophet spake or Moses gave the Law.
Not all unmapped His way, obscure His end,
To the Redeemer in the Wilderness:
Familiar with the guide-book of His course
Through years of labour, studious, purposeful,
It remained to order knowledge, shape His plans:—
How thus, and thus, knowing the people well,
He should begin the work of their salvation;
Teach them to think new thoughts, new ways pursue,
Toward new ends, undreamed of hitherto:
“Behold, I make all new!” His awful word,
And ever, as He thought, the Tempter came;
The Accuser had an ill word for the people;
That Mocker plied Him with, Yea, hath God said?
Evermore, What’s the Good? that Hopeless cried—
All his insidious temptings so conveyed
That purest heart might not perceive their guile,
Wisest and meekest, scarce their pride discern.
Was’t thus, or otherwise temptation came
To Christ, our Lord, our Life, our one sole Hope?
Scarce dare we ask, or let our reverent thought,
Obtrusive, scan the record, were we not told,—
“In all points He was tempted like as we,
But without sin.” Behoves us then to asks,
For soul’s instructions, how His temptings came,
Lest like assailing buffet our weak frame.