Luke 4:1-2 (NIV) Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, 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.
There are three things about Jesus’ wilderness testing that need to be pointed out. First, Jesus went into the experience full of the Holy Spirit. That means that He had all that He needed to come out victorious if He would simply live in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit during the test, and not try to win in His own strength and wisdom.
Second, the test was the Holy Spirit’s idea (and, by extension, the plan of the Father), not a random event that “just happened.” This time of testing (another common translation of the Greek word translated “tempting”) was important. Jesus was the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), the vanguard of a new humanity. Because the first Adam failed his first test and brought death and suffering into the world, it was vital that the last Adam be fully tested, and fully pass the test so that he could bring life and shalom into the world, and do away with death and mankind’s separation from God.
And finally, even though Matthew and Luke focus on the temptations that came at the end of Jesus’ forty-day fast, the fact is that He was being tested the whole time He was out there. It was a completely grueling experience, a marathon, not a sprint, and required not only grit and endurance on Jesus’ part, but complete reliance on God and His strength to get through it victoriously.
These three lessons are not peculiar to Jesus, but are vital to anyone who wants to live in victory:
- Live completely in the Holy Spirit at all times.
- Expect testing, and receive it as from the hand of God, realizing that He will use it to strengthen us, and will never allow us to be tested beyond what we can endure, but will always provide a path to victory (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- Rely on God’s strength and wisdom during the test, realizing that it may last a long time and use up all of our own resources before the finish line is reached.
Father, I receive this instruction and these warnings. I also see clearly some precious promises embedded in them: that you will provide Your Holy Spirit to empower us and guide us not just into times of testing, but through them as well; and that Your Holy Spirit is sufficient to enable our deliverance, no matter what snares are laid before us by the enemy. Thank You for all of these, Lord. Amen.