God sometimes works in strange ways. Jesus is baptized, and the next thing He experiences is temptation. Led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit, He’s tempted by Satan—His adversary. Such is the nature of our own wilderness experiences.

The wilderness stirred many emotions for the Jews of Jesus’ day, evoking memories of their 40-year journey out of Egypt. To them, the wilderness was a place of vulnerability—a rough terrain in an unknown land, with uncertain provisions (Exodus 15:22-24; 16:2-3). It was a place of testing where the promises of God were all they had (Deuteronomy 8:1-5). For Jesus, His wilderness experience included both “wild animals” and Satan himself (Mark 1:12-13). In the wilderness, He was vulnerable to both physical and spiritual dangers.

The wilderness was not just a place of vulnerability for the Jews. It was also a place of transition that lay between their slavery and liberation (Ex. 3:17). Jesus’ wilderness experience marked a transition for Him too. The private years were over; His public life had begun. John the Baptist’s mission was done. Now it was Jesus’ turn (Mark 1:14-15).

Have you ever had a wilderness experience—a time of vulnerability and testing far away from all that is familiar and certain? Perhaps it involved a risky step of faith, a period of doubt, or even disobedience. The terrain was rocky; you were cold and afraid. During that time, did you realize that the wilderness was where God trained Israel as His child? Spoke to His prophets? Prepared His people, and His Son, for a significant work?

The wilderness can be a scary place—full of dangers. But if you stay close to the God of Israel, close to Jesus, it may prove to be your transition into an unprecedented period of fruitfulness.