“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights He fasted and became very hungry.”
Matthew 4:1-2 (NLT)
It was no coincidence that Jesus encountered the devil in the wilderness. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 4 starts off with Jesus being led into the wilderness, “to be tempted by the devil.” This was no surprise to God but deliberately planned, knowing the devil would show up, attempting to derail Jesus, before He set out in His ministry to fulfill His purpose here on this earth. In the past, I focused more on Jesus’ responses to the devil’s temptations and believed this shows me how I too should respond. And that still holds, as the model I must follow. But I skipped over this intentional step by Jesus, choosing to put Himself in the position to confront the devil’s temptations. I would not deliberately choose to be tempted, so why did Jesus do that? The other part I find equally mind-blowing is Jesus’ “preparation” to face the devil, which seemed counter intuitive to me.
Jesus knew the devil would play on His physical needs, yet He chose to fast – for 40 days and 40 nights making Himself very vulnerable, physically weak… and “very hungry.” A normal person would be ravenous at the first offer of anything edible. From a worldly sense, when we know we are about to face our biggest enemy/challenger, we often prepare by strengthening ourselves, physically, mentally and even have all the arguments we are going to deploy ready for firing. We should prepare, sure, because we are ONLY human. But Jesus modelled another way, to seek God and to let our responses be guided by our position to God, that is, under His authority.
Jesus could have easily responded to the devil’s temptation saying, “All things were created through me, for me, and I am authority over all. I AM the one who ALLOWS YOU, devil, to have any power in this world, yet you seem to think you can connive me into thinking it is a “good deal” to trade my eternal authority for the temporary worldly power you offer?” Jesus could have engaged in a defensive power struggle like that – He did not. Instead, He declared His worship of the Father, not of worldly power. Jesus responded from a posture of surrender to the Father’s authority.
By positioning Himself under the Father’s authority, Jesus demonstrated that even in a physically weakened state, the devil could NOT overcome Him. In the wilderness, it was as if Jesus was deliberately making Himself weak so that in His weakness God’s power would be strong and He chose to let Himself be tempted so we would have the benefit of knowing that the power of the enemy is no match for even the smallest bit of God’s power – and that is the Spirit He gives us - with us and within us as believers. It is in this power I can declare, “Get out of here, satan!” whenever the enemy tries to tempt me to worship anything but God and whenever the enemy tries to derail my God-defined purpose.
Prayer: Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I believe You are with me. I believe I have a God-defined purpose and I believe You empower me to fulfill that purpose. Thank you for Your power that is made strong in my weakness so that I will not be overcome by the devil’s temptations, but I can declare with confidence that Your will for my life cannot be derailed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.