One Little Word Shall Fell Him


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body  to you, as a living sacrifice

Jesus, We belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Luke 4:1–2 (NIV)

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.


Our pilgrimage takes an interesting and surprising turn today. Just last week we witnessed the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. We saw the Holy Spirit descending from the sky, in bodily form like a dove, and land on Jesus.  We heard the voice of God the Father Almighty saying, “This is my Son, my beloved; with him I am well pleased.” Holy Phenomenon Batman! 

The stage was set for a parade into the city of Jerusalem. Who needs twelve disciples when you’ve got an army of fans ready to march on city hall with firepower like that? We have a Braveheart-styled leader in John the Baptizer and now an anointed and appointed messianic deliverer in Jesus. Add to that a bunch of rowdy, ritually-pure, jihadi types ready to take down Rome and take back home. Look out Pontius Pilate—we are coming for you! 

At first it perhaps looks like Jesus is heading toward the Holy City but his journey stops far short, as he wanders alone into the Judean desert, also known as the wilderness, or as Dan Wilt calls it in his upcoming Wake-Up Call series, “the Wild.”1 This is why Jesus will want disciples. Fans, even devoted ones, just don’t stand up in these kinds of conditions. Though Jesus knew Rome was a problem, he also knew Rome wasn’t the real enemy. He knew the real enemy was Satan and this is the one against whom he had come to declare war. 

Here is the most interesting thing to me in this unfolding. Let’s try to divorce ourselves from hindsight and our knowledge of what is actually going on here. In one minute we see this Galilean peasant come to the Jordan River and be recognized as the Son of God in the midst of multitudes. In the next minute he is walking alone into the middle of nowhere. It looks like a rejection of his calling. This is not what Messiahs do. They don’t walk away from a following like what was about to emerge. It looks like the movement from a mountaintop of favor to a valley of failure. 

You ever feel that way in life; like a big win turns into a broken wilderness; like a promising future takes a turn into a prodigious fall. Here’s the boom-sauce text for the day:

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

When we consecrate our life to Jesus, the Spirit leads us. And yes, it will often be a mountain top one day and a wilderness for the next year or ten. And be clear, everything that happens in your life—particularly the tragedies—is not God’s will. But be assured of this: God has a will in everything that happens. Through it all, the Holy Spirit is leading you. He is helping you. Be ready. It is in those wilderness seasons that the absolute worst temptations come. Temptations to walk away, to self-medicate, to succumb to despair, to give in, or even to give up. The wilderness is real and it will threaten to undo us, because Satan is real and will seize on any and every opportunity to take us down. More real, though, is the Holy Spirit, “because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b NASB). 

Martin Luther may have said it best, “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us. We will not fear, for God has willed his truth to triumph through us. The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him; his rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure; one little word shall fell him.”

One little word shall fell him. I think I know what song we will be singing today. 


Our Father, we thank you for that one little word today: Jesus. We thank you that one little word will fell him—Jesus. We just want to keep speaking the name of Jesus. Jesus, the name that charms our fears that bids our sorrows cease. ‘Tis music to the sinner’s ears, ’tis life and health and peace. Jesus, Jesus, how I trust him. How I’ve proved him over and over. Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus, O for grace to trust him more. Holy Spirit, lead us to the mountaintops and through the valleys, training us to become strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. We know this will mean letting go of the strength of our own making. Give us the grace to let it go before having it wrested from our hands.  Start preparing us even now for the wilderness season ahead with Jesus as we near the days of Lent. Praying in Jesus’s name, amen.


Where are you in these days—mountaintop or desert valley? What do you feel like you need from Jesus at this time? What do you want in your life? What do you want for your faith? 


Yes, today we will sing the great hymn of the Reformation, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by the great Martin Luther himself (1529). I love how our Seedbed Hymnal, Our Great Redeemers Praise gets to it quickly slotting it as Hymn #35. Let’s sing big today. I’ll be bringing my A-game on the recording. 


  1. We have a real blessing ahead for the forty days of Lent. Dan Wilt has mapped out a powerful journey which will be unfolded here on the Wake-Up Call. It’s called Jesus in the Wild: Lessons on Calling for Life in the World. We even have the books available now. Invite family and friends (even your whole church) to join the great descent to the cross together with us. If your church hasn’t landed on a Lenten journey resource, this is the one. Here is a full preview for your perusal. We’ve got an Ash Wednesday resource, videos, books in hand, preaching outlines, hundreds of other churches to journey with, the whole tamale! Come on! 

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

3 Responses

  1. I understand that these so-called desert journeys are God’s crucibles that are intended to burn away our human dross, our God is like a refiner’s fire (Malachi 3:2). Currently my journey is more like a heavy fog. I’m looking for a familiar landmark to aid me in my destination. “Open my eyes that I may see glimpses of truth hast for me.”

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