Matthew 4; Luke 4-5; John 1:15-51
When Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, He wasn’t on vacation. He was out there with no food, being jerked around by Satan. Matthew and Luke share three of those temptations. Many have said they represent three things God hates: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (I John) I can see the correlation.
But today, I’m wondering how Jesus’ time in the wilderness effects me. Here are my thoughts:
Forty days is a long time to be exposed to the elements without food. We aren’t sure what those forty days were like for Jesus, but I have a suspicion Satan didn’t wait until day 37 to hit Jesus with the first of only three temptations. I think Satan probably hit Jesus with everything in his arsenal the moment he realize he could. Think of it. Forty days with unrelenting attacks on your soul. And I think Satan’s hard on me.
And, I imagine, as Jesus’ physical body became weaker, Satan’s attacks intensified. Because that’s how he is with me. If my body is weary, if my heart is heavy, Satan throws me a bone. “Compromise,” he says. “Things will get better.” And I am tempted.
Satan knew Jesus was here to win kingdoms for Himself. He knew the Lord had a job to do. So Satan told Jesus, “Here is a shortcut. Bow down to me just this once and I can get you what You’re after without having to go through all the grief.” Satan knows I have a job to do, too. I am commanded to share the Gospel. Now I don’t hear Satan asking me to worship him in those words, but I certainly hear him telling me to back off a bit, tolerate other viewpoints, let a person believe what he wants to believe. I hear that voice in my head almost every day. Tempting.
Then there are those times of doubt. I am not suggesting Jesus ever doubted His Father. I think at this point, as weak as He probably was, He might have been viewing Satan like a yappy little puppy nipping at His heels. He probably wanted to kick him to the curb. But Jesus endured this ridiculous attempt by Satan to get Him to sin, because He knew Satan wasn’t going to give up on me easily, either. Satan said, “You’ve got all those angels at your disposal, prove it.” And to me He says, “You claim to have God with you, why are you suffering?” And, “Go ahead and sin a bit, you’re forgiven, right? What’s the big deal?” I begin to consider giving in to the temptation.
Jesus’ time in the wilderness with Satan wasn’t to prepare Him for ministry. He did that for me. He wanted me to know that He gets me. He wants me to come to Him when I am tempted and weak, and know that He’s been there, too. Jesus’ time in the wilderness wasn’t about Him at all. It was about me because He loves me that much. He did this so I can know Hebrews 4:15 is true:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.
And I Corinthians 10:13:
No temptation has seized you expect what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
Jesus was tempted. But He won. And He’s willing and able to give me the victory, too.
Thank You, Jesus.