Have you ever had just an awesome experience or spiritual high at some point in your life – and then you seemingly woke up to a nightmare of a situation soon afterwards? Are you there now?

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” – Matt 4:1

Okay – we know Jesus was perfect. But, he must have done something somewhat wrong or that God was a little upset about for this to occur, right? (I mean – he was lead into the wilderness AND allowed to be tempted by the devil?!) Well, actually–no, just the opposite. Jesus is led by the Spirit of God to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil after he was baptized! In this verse, Matthew just says “then” – but we know this event occurs immediately after the baptism because Mark tells us so in his account of these two events in Mark 1:11-12.

Talk about going from a spiritual high to a low quickly! If we look back in the previous chapter of Matthew, we see that Jesus had just experienced the affirmation from his baptism–having the Spirit of God descend like a dove, rest on him and have a voice from heaven proclaiming him God’s beloved Son, with whom he is well pleased! (Matt 3:16-17)  So, there is no mistaking who Jesus is here, what has occurred and that God is very pleased. Not only is he not upset with Jesus for some reason, he is actually very pleased. Yet, the very next phase in Jesus’ life is a time in which he is in the wilderness and he is confronted with temptations.

Isn’t that how life is so often though? It’s not a coincidence that Jesus’ temptation immediately follows his baptism. We can see that same pattern in other peoples’ lives in the Bible and also today in our lives. So often after a significant event, especially a spiritual high or growth that has occurred, we’re hit with temptations or struggles of some sort. Have you noticed that in your life or in someone around you? It can be seen in both good and bad ways. The good is that the circumstances can be seen as a test for us to prove and affirm our growth. We are tested and proven right. It strengthens our faith. Obviously, the bad is that it’s no fun. It’s painful and hurts. Satan uses the temptations to tempt us, not to test us. He uses the trials to entice us to sin – and he waits for the times and locations we are most vulnerable. Plus, we aren’t perfect like Jesus. So – we do question whether we did something wrong to cause us to be in the wilderness.

Yet we can take hope in this verse. …Hope? Jesus is led by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by the devil in the wilderness and we have hope? YES! As much as we all hate temptations, trials and struggles, we can take great comfort in knowing Jesus knows exactly how we feel and he is able to help us. (See Heb 2:18, 4:15) He faced these temptations–the same temptations we face–in his human nature. He could have used his deity to avoid it – which is actually one of the ways the devil tempted him. But Jesus didn’t. He overcame temptation as a human being! He used the spiritual resources that are available to us as Christians:

  • Power of the Holy Spirit (Matt 4:1) and
  • Power of the Word of God. (Matt 4:4, 7, 10)

How do you react when faced with those times in the wilderness and being tempted? Do you find yourself looking at your circumstances and wondering why it’s happening to you (or someone you love) and what you could have done differently? Were you just feeling sky high? Then, seemingly, “out of the blue” you are facing issues or trials you now must handle that seem impossible? Well, maybe – just maybe – God led you to this point at this time for testing. Are you looking for your spiritual resources for help?

My Prayer:

Dear Lord, I don’t know about anyone else, but I so needed to study this verse – for a lot of reasons. I struggle with struggles! I don’t look for my spiritual resources for help. As soon as I hit a wall–which seems to come out of nowhere–I feel … in fact that’s where I can stop. I feel. Rather than going towards what I know – I get tempted, enticed by how I am feeling due to the circumstances. Satan certainly knows where to hit us where it hurts – where we are vulnerable.

Lord, please give me discernment – to know when my struggles are due to my mishandling something – or when it is to test me – to prove something you are teaching me. Give me that desire to really spend time with you in prayer and to dig into your Word. I need to fight my temptations with the resources you provide us!

Thank you also for illustrating again through your Word that we will face trials. We will have ups and downs. We shouldn’t be surprised by it or feel attacked or threatened by it when it occurs. Help us Lord to use our time wisely. You know how it’s so difficult to structure our time – especially when caring for another. I’m sure I’m not the only one dealing with so many questions of what to do, when to do it, how to do it, where to get the help, and why does it have to be this way. Help those of us who are struggling with these questions or some of these questions – to look to you for the answers, rather than wallowing in the midst of the unknowns. Thank you for understanding my prayers, even if they may seem disjointed and unclear to others. We love you and praise you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.