Into The Desert

Luke 4: 8,13  Jesus answered him (Satan), “It is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’ ”  When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time. 

Jesus had prepared all his earthly life for his mission.  He knew the scriptures by heart, he had led a life of devotion to God and his earthly family, and he had been baptized by John.  Now, he could begin his ministry—or not.

Long before Jesus came to earth as a baby in Bethlehem, Satan had been given dominion over the earth.  Wherever he found weakness, he entered the souls of mankind.  The arrival of Jesus threatened the work of Satan, a former angel who turned to evil and was expelled from heaven, along with a multitude of angels who had sided with him.  The baptism of Jesus must have sent shockwaves through the Evil One and his band of former angels.  Satan thrived on chaos, confusion, and greed.  Jesus came to bring peace, understanding, and charity.  It is small wonder that Jesus had to face the Prince of Darkness before he could begin to save mankind.

After the emotional high of his baptism, Jesus went into the desert to do battle with Satan.  He fasted and prayed for forty days.  FORTY DAYS!  I can hardly bear to fast for one day, much less forty.  Yet, Jesus knew this battle must be fought—and won—before he could start his ministry.

At the end of the forty days of fasting, when Jesus was the most vulnerable, Satan came on the scene.  He smelled weakness.  He thought that no one, not even Jesus, could resist food after so long a time without nourishment.  So, he sidled up next to the very hungry Jesus, and told him that if he was really the Son of God, he could turn the stones at his feet to bread.  But Jesus answered, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone.”

Next, Satan led Jesus where he could see all the kingdoms of the world.  He told Jesus that if He would worship him, he would give him all the domains of the earth.  Jesus simply answered, “It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.”

Finally, Jesus was led by Satan to Jerusalem.  They stood together on the pinnacle of the temple.  Satan told Jesus that if he was the Son of God, he should throw himself down from the pinnacle.  At this point, I believe Satan sensed defeat and attempted to trick Jesus into destroying himself.  He even quoted scripture to assure Jesus that angels would protect Him from harm.  But Jesus rebuked Satan with scripture, “It is said, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”

Realizing he had lost this round, Satan retreated until “a more opportune time.”

What a lesson for us!  Just because we resist temptation once doesn’t mean Satan is done with us.  He will simply come back at us when we are at a weak point in our lives.  He finds the smallest chink in our armor, the smallest doubt in our minds, to sow the seeds of destruction.

Jesus grew to be a man worthy of God’s purpose by remaining faithful and by resisting temptation.  By God’s grace, so can we.

 

Debra Ison

 

Painting by James Tissot “Jesus Tempted in the Wilderness” in Public Domain