Matthew 4:1-11 - The Temptations of Jesus
vv. 1-2 - So, straight up, the first temptation for me would have been to say, “Uh, uh. Not me. No wilderness for me. I’m not facing down the devil. Fasting 40 days. Uh, uh. Not me.” This story has always intrigued me and in some sense awed me. Jesus does what is probably the second greatest act of humility in recorded human history (the greatest being his crucifixion) by submitting to a baptism he not only doesn’t need, but which, to the observer, could imply things about him that simply aren’t true. His great act of humility is met with what might be the greatest Divine affirmation in history, with an audible voice and a tangible presence of the Holy Spirit coming down on him. So Jesus loves and humbles himself to demonstrate his love. The Father affirms that act with his love. Jesus submits to the will of the Father as expressed through the Holy Spirit. We have a tremendous love relationship in the making here and then, “Bam!” The first act of the will of the Father through the leading of the Spirit, is to have his Son go out into the wilderness, call him to fast for 40 days and then to be tempted by the devil. Kinda redefines love, doesn’t it?!
Who would follow such a leading? It seems so counterpoint to everything we do. We want to get things done. Ministry is beginning. He waited 30 years. “Let’s get going and get God’s work done!” we say. Action, action, action. What would happen if instead of rushing into ministry, we went apart and fasted for forty days and faced down the deepest struggles of our lives and stood our ground. What if we obeyed the Spirit at that level first - before we began our “ministry for God.” How would it change who we are and the preparedness we have before heading into the front line warfare?
How our flesh resists the things of the Spirit. I was sitting here just thinking about fasting for 3 days. I resist. My flesh doesn’t want to go without food. I don’t want to spend a day without a meal. I don’t want the headache. I don’t want to be lacking the energy. I’ve got way too much to do. And on it goes. I have so much in me that resists. Jesus did not. He obeyed. Always. He heard the Spirit and he obeyed the Spirit. He allowed the Spirit to direct the courses of His life whether he understood or not.
As a result, He was given a ministry nobody else could have. And I think this is a strategic key to our future - all of us. The glory we enter into is directly related to our willingness to be led by the Spirit and obey when he calls us to do the things our flesh resists.
Afterward, He was hungry. I guess so. But He was also ready. He had humbled himself and had been anointed by the Spirit and filled with the affirmation of the Father. He was now complying in obedience to the Spirit. He had humility, anointing, affirmation and obedience on his side as he entered the battle with temptation. In spite of His weakened condition, Jesus was on solid ground for the challenge.
I wonder how my “footing” is? Humility. Anointing. Affirmation. Obedience.