READ: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12,13; Luke 4:1-13
Jesus has just been baptized and declared to be the beloved Son of God. He is full of the Holy Spirit and that same Spirit drives Him into the Judean wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The three authors of the synoptic gospels use three different words to tell us about this act of the Spirit in Jesus’ life. Matthew indicates that Jesus is ‘led up’ or taken to the high Judean wilderness for this trial. Mark’s word is the most forceful indicating that Jesus is led by an irresistible force, compelled in stern although not violent language. And Luke uses a word also used to describe leading an animal with the idea that there is also one leading involved in the movement. Perhaps there is another way to describe what is happening, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and irresistibly followed the Holy Spirit up into the Judean wilderness where for forty days he was tempted by the devil”. I think in the past I’ve pictured Him led into the wilderness and more or less dumped there to endure the temptation on His own. Not so. The Spirit was with Him.
This is important to me. Jesus was tempted, a Greek word that means to try, make trial of, test for the purpose of ascertaining his quality, or what he thinks, or how he will behave. He faced this temptation in much the same way any of us face temptation. He did not have the physical presence of God or even of another man to help Him through, but He did have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit just like we who follow Him do.
Satan seemed bent on finding a chink in Jesus’ understanding of His identity and therefore His mission. Jesus was just come from the very powerful baptism experience where He and everyone nearby heard the words this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And now forty days of silence. No heavens being torn open. No audible voice of God. And in this time there was some kind of compelling demand to fast; to fast for forty days and nights in a place that offered little sustenance in any case. And scripture tells us that the temptations came at the end of the forty days when Jesus was ‘hungry’ – a word that implies to crave ardently, to seek with eager desire.
I see in Jesus’ response to the devil’s test such a key to how we too can power through temptation. Jesus knew the character of God and He knew the word of God. It was upon those two things that He stood firm against Satan’s insinuations … ‘IF you are the Son of God….’, test Your power; test God’s care for You; do what You are called to do, but do it through my shortcut. Satan even tried using scripture to sway Jesus, but Jesus knew scripture and God’s character so well that He found the truth under the lie that Satan was suggesting.
Jesus came to show us the way. In this test He shows us the way to stand up under temptation. We too can stand firm in our identity in Christ when we depend upon scripture and the character of God. I can’t prove this, but I believe that Jesus’ answers were Spirit led and supplied. Even alone in the wilderness He was in communion with God through Holy Spirit and depended upon that connection to ace the test of Satan.
Lord, You amaze me! Thank You that You went through this test and so clearly demonstrated how we too can face tests. Lord, thank You for the scripture that is imbedded in my heart – Your words to encourage, support, rebuke, and make me steadfast. And thank You for Your character that shines through Your Word and lives within me through Holy Spirit. I depend upon this … I depend upon You! Praise You Lord Jesus!