May 13 I Thursday
2 Kings 17-18
“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.”—Luke 4:1-2
There are two things that we could notice from the opening verse of this devotion about Jesus’s temptation. Firstly, the timing of it happened after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Secondly, Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the desert. Although it was the devil who attacked Jesus, it was God the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into battle. In Matthew’s record of this account, he writes, “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1).
As we consider the experience of Jesus in the wilderness, there are two perspectives. The first is the devil’s perspective because he is the one who is out to destroy Jesus. The second is God’s perspective because it is God who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. What was God doing by leading His Son to be tempted in this way? From the devil’s perspective, they were forty days of temptation, but from God’s perspective, they were forty days of testing––this is a big difference!
Temptation is negative, whereas testing is positive. Temptation is designed to weaken Jesus, while testing is designed to strengthen Jesus. From the devil’s perspective, it was meant to be destructive, but from God’s perspective, the very same thing was intended to be constructive.
There is a myth that when the Holy Spirit leads us, He leads us away from trouble, conflict and difficulty. Yet, the reality is that He often leads us into difficulty, conflict and temptation. We pray, “Lead us not into temptation…” (Matthew 6:13) because we do not want that. But in the case with Jesus in the wilderness, the object of the exercise was for Jesus to be exposed to the devil with no food in His stomach for forty days in the heat of the desert. None of us would want to be in this situation, but what Jesus went through was crucial in His life and is why we should have a different perspective on temptation.
The devil set out to disqualify Jesus from His ministry. God, however, was out to qualify and equip Jesus for His ministry. Sometimes the very thing that the devil would use to destroy us is the very thing God uses to build and bless us. This is why there are a number of incidents in Scripture of direct satanic attack being the cause of someone being blessed, and allowing them to grow in a way that they never would otherwise. The next time we feel we are being tempted, may we see it as a testing from God to mature us.
Prayer: Precious God, strengthen me through these times of testing so that I can grow and be equipped for Your glory. Thank You, God, for using these moments of testing to mature me.