You’re probably thinking this is another retelling of the Christmas Story. It’s not. It’s about the reality on earth that Jesus the baby grown-up went through for us as proof that it is possible to survive the Tempter’s attacks on our souls.
Recently I was reading out of Matthew 4 about Jesus in the wilderness. Here of late I’ve been feeling like I’m in the wilderness with no oasis in sight. Sometimes I’m quite sure my GPS is constantly recalculating and meanwhile I’m walking in tiring circles. You ever been there? If so, you know that’s when Satan has a hey-day. Maybe you’re there right now – perhaps we should make our circles overlap. Misery loves company after all! I fail to remember that my GPS is divinely designed to need daily re-calibration and without that it will be constantly recalculating without successfully pointing me to the shortest route toward Jesus, my centering oasis.
I for one could take a major lesson from Jesus’ interaction with Satan here in the wilderness. Jesus wasn’t cowed by Satan. Neither was He deceived by Satan’s lies. Why? Because Jesus knew His Father’s Words by heart and that was how He could successfully refute the lies. Jesus also knew without doubt the power that He had available. And no, the power was not just His because He was still God. He went through this as a human. Hard to grasp? I know; if you’re like me you kind of brush off the import of this scene because you say that Jesus had a cop-out. He could pull His being God power out and refute the Devil. I believe though that in reality He faced the devil as fully human, not God, there in the wilderness after forty days of fasting.
Something that also stuck out to me is that verse 1 tells us He was led to the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted. Ever cross your mind that the Spirit is leading you into your wilderness of temptation? That kind of makes me a little miffed at God. Why does He lead us into the wilderness of temptation of all lonely, trying places and after a time of fasting at that? Perhaps the time of fasting is a time of desolation in your heart where your spiritual nutrition seems scarce or perhaps it’s a time of intentional physical fasting in order to concentrate on God’s presence in your life. Either way you are hoping for some kind of Divine respite from the personal fasting but instead along comes the Devil. With his lies convincingly cloaked in the very words of Scripture. Think about that for a moment. Satan knows his stuff. If even the devil knows the words of Scripture, how much more we the children of God should be stashing our armory full of those Words. But am I?
Am I ready to fight temptation with the Words of God even though I may be physically spent & weak, spiritually exhausted, thirsty & hungry? Or do I spy the approach of the Devil and think “Oh I’m toast!” before he’s even tossed out his first devious suggestion? Do I fume under my breath at God for allowing the Devil to approach me here in my time of weakness after enduring a fast or do I draw my rebuttals from His unending source of Truth? Do I toss the real Truth right back at Satan or do I give pause and consider his twisted, out-of-context versions? Do I persist however many times it takes, however many repeats of the Truth it takes? Do I even have a constantly replenished Arsenal of Truth in my mind and heart to draw from?
One final thread: Do I allow the angels to come near after the temptation has wrung my spirit out? Or am I so scrunched up bemoaning my battle wounds that I don’t invite the approach of God’s ministering angels? Do I distance myself in the shame of my battle wounds that I forego healing treatment from the One who’s been through it all before?
Invite the Veteran Warrior in on your battles no matter how shameful the content. And no matter how remote the wilderness seems, He is there ready to help you fight off the Devil. And God always has His ministering angels, of any shape and form, standing by to move in and minister to your battered soul.
–your fellow soldier in the journey thru the wilderness