“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1
It is incredible to see how Jesus’ ministry was introduced to the world. It would seem fitting for His ministry to kick off with a big splash. If Hollywood had done it, Jesus would have come in sitting on a throne held up by angels, greeted by adoring crowds with a parade down Main Street. But that’s not how God does things. There are two main events that marked the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. First, He was baptized in the Jordan River. Then, He was tempted in the desert by Satan. In all four of the Gospel books of the Bible, His baptism and temptation are presented together.
As soon as Jesus came up out of the baptism waters of the Jordan River, God presented Him as His beloved Son. And what happened immediately after that? Did Jesus start healing the sick, walking on water, or preaching great sermons? No. Instead, He goes into the desert for 40 days of fasting and then is tempted by the Devil face-to-face. The story is quite simple, taking up less than 200 words in the Bible. The story of Jesus’ temptation is, however, one of the most encouraging passages in all of Scripture because He shows us that even though temptation comes to all of us, it doesn’t have to defeat any of us.
Is it a coincidence that Jesus’ temptation comes right after His baptism? I don’t think so. Matthew 4:1 tells us that the Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. Does that mean it is God who tempts us to sin? No. James 1:13 assures us that God does not tempt anyone. So why would the Spirit lead Jesus to be tempted? I believe it was to show us a perfect picture of how to resist the schemes of the Devil. Through Jesus’ temptation, we learn three important truths. First, we learn to expect temptation. If Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was tempted to sin, we will be to. We should not be surprised by temptation. Second, we learn how the Devil works when he tempts us. Satan was cunning and sly in his temptation of Jesus, even twisting God’s Word to try and get Jesus to sin. He will use the same tactics on us. Lastly, we learn how to stand firm on God’s Word, by God’s Spirit, to reject temptation.
Through the example of Jesus in Matthew 4, we have confidence that temptation is not stronger than the Spirit of God living in His people. If we have surrendered our lives to Him, His Spirit lives in us, giving us the power to stand firm against the Devil’s tricks and schemes. Temptation is inevitable; but falling victim to it is not. By God’s grace, we can resist the temptation to sin.
God, thank you for the example of Jesus when facing temptation. Please help me to cling to Your truth when I am tempted. In Jesus’ name, Amen.