April 3 I Wednesday
“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness...” —Luke 4:1
Temptation is the most common experience that unites us as human beings, and Jesus was no exception. On His 40th day in the wilderness, Satan tempted Him in three areas in which we are all vulnerable.
Satan first attacked Jesus with the lust of the flesh. The lusts of the flesh are natural, God-given appetites which, though good in themselves, can be exploited for selfish purposes. Jesus had been without food for 40 days. Forty-two days is about the longest anyone can go without food before causing serious or permanent damage to their body. Jesus was therefore at His most vulnerable when Satan said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread” (Luke 4:3).
Jesus was not only being tempted to satisfy His hunger; He was being tested by God in His attitude towards resources. From God’s perspective, though Jesus was divine in nature, He had to live with all the limitations of man, and this testing would prepare Him, stretch Him and equip Him to go the distance. From Jesus’s perspective, the test was whether He would trust His Father to provide for Him even at the last moment. Jesus answers Satan, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone’” (Luke 4:4), and Matthew adds, “but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (4:4).
The Father tested the Son because He knew that one day Jesus would hang on a cross, seemingly without resources, rejected and scorned by His own people. After the wilderness testing, God sent His angels to minister to Jesus. Jesus then returned to Galilee “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). It is one thing to be filled with the Spirit, but quite another to be characterized by power. Things then began to happen that caused people to take notice of Jesus. Luke tells us, “…news about Him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised Him” (4:14-15).
In Ephesians 4:27, Paul warns, “...do not give the devil a foothold”—a point of access to our lives through sin. Jesus was not in any way exempt from this possibility. In fact, He was extremely vulnerable. But Jesus knew Scripture, He knew His Father, He loved Him, and He trusted that God would provide. Most people who have been a Christian for any length of time know the reality of spiritual warfare. The devil will always offer an attractive alternative to the will of God, and in His wisdom, God will sometimes take us right to that 40th day so we learn that when God provides, He provides what is good, right and worth what it takes to receive.
Prayer: Precious Lord, in times of testing, grant me the strength and discipline to hold fast to You, trusting You to the 40th day if that is Your will. Thank You, Lord.