Christ in the Wilderness -- By: Donald Garlington

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 002:2 (Spring 1993)
Article: Christ in the Wilderness
Author: Donald Garlington


Christ in the Wilderness

Donald Garlington

The uniqueness of Jesus Christ, I venture to say, is the most distinguished feature of the New Testament’s presentation of Him. Claims such as those of Acts 4:12 and Colossians 1:18 bear witness not simply to a theological dictum, but to an intuitive awareness of the singularity of His person and work. Early in this century, B. B. Warfield proposed that there is a trinitarian consciousness which pervades the New Testament and undergirds its occasional and often unsystematic formulations of the doctrine of the triune God. Underlying Warfield’s study was the proposition that the Trinity is revealed, strictly speaking, not in the writings of the Old and New Testaments, but in the history which fulfilled the expectations of the Old and formed the basis of the New. 1 The Trinity, in other words, was brought to light in the person of the incarnate Logos Himself.

The same can be said of the uniqueness of Christ. The first Christians came to believe and confess that He is the Son of God through an encounter with His living presence among them. Yet such a conviction raises a historical problem, because much of what He said and did was not unique in itself. Resemblances with Him can be found in ancient reports of teachers, parable tellers, wise men, prophets, miracle workers, exorcists, and redeemer-figures. Even His temptations are paralleled in the reports of ancient religious leaders.

The obvious question, then, is this: How do we account for the depth of devotion bestowed on Jesus of Nazareth by His first disciples? Perhaps more importantly: How is it that ever since that time people of widely divergent cultures, ancient and modern, have come to confess Him and Him alone as “the savior of the world” (John 4:42)? There is only one way. His people have accepted what the New Testament claims for Him: He is none other than God incarnate (John 1:1, 14), the Lord to whom every knee shall bow (Isa. 45:23; Phil. 2:10).

I want to propose that our Lord’s testing in the wilderness of Judea is one of the most significant signposts to His uniqueness (and divinity). While various individuals in the Old Testament and post-biblical Judaism were considered to be examples of faith and perseverance, He is portrayed in the Gospels as the one who gives meaning to all who went befo...

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