It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Was it?
He had just been baptized. Life isn’t supposed to be tough right after you get baptized. Is it?
Just after what had to have been one of the most satisfying moments of Jesus’ life on earth, he would enter into a time of intense suffering that would only be surpassed by his time on the cross. In the Jordan, Jesus heard his Father’s voice proclaiming his love and affirmation for his only Son. In the desert, Jesus heard his enemy’s voice questioning all that he had come to do.
But how did this happen?
How did Jesus walk out of the peaceful waters of the Jordan and into the brutal wilderness?
The answer is shocking.
It was the Holy Spirit who led Jesus into a face to face showdown with Satan.
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Matthew 4:1 (ESV)
But this was no act of treason among the members of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit wasn’t setting Jesus up for failure. No, he was confirming Jesus as the only perfect Savior who was qualified to save his people from Satan’s grip of sin, destruction and death. But that confirmation required a confrontation with the enemy. One that had already been proven to be too much for us to handle.
I have an addiction. My drug isn’t a strange powder. It can’t be smoked. It’s not illegal. I am addicted to comfort.
Chances are, you are too.
I’d love to make it through each day without having a confrontation with Satan. While I’ve never stood face to face with the devil, I have looked in the eye of some of his servants. And I have felt the impact of his weapons and schemes. If it’s all up to me, I’ll be just fine in some Christian room with my Christian, organic, gluten-free breakfast and my Christian family and friends close by. Just us comfortable Jesus-followers. No evil. No devil. No pain or discomfort.
But what if that means no Jesus either?
We must trust that following God into the dark and demonic wilderness is better than being in a nice, comfortable place without God. Sometimes following the Sprit means having a good time in the river. Sometimes it means staring down the enemy in the wilderness. But no matter where the Spirit takes us, we can trust that it will work out for our good.
Satan is a their, a liar and a killer. When temptations and trials come your way, Satan’s aim is your destruction. But we must be careful with our theology here. Satan, though powerful, is not sovereign. God rules over him. Satan aims to tempt you for your destruction. God’s plan is to test you for your good. He takes Satan’s momentum and uses it for good. Your good. So follow him in confidence that wherever he takes you, the ultimate destination will be good. But whatever you do, when the Spirit leads you into the wilderness, don’t stay behind in the river. Follow the example of your Savior.
Jesus didn’t stay in heaven. He came to earth.
Jesus didn’t stay in the Jordan. He went to meet the devil in the wilderness.
Jesus didn’t stay seated around a table with his friends. He went to the cross.
Praise God, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. He rose up victorious to go back to his Father.
And Jesus won’t stay there either. He’s coming back for those who rely on him in their daily battles against that old wilderness foe.
Jesus didn’t stay. Instead, he lived his life on mission to do his Father’s will.
May the same be said of us.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:25 (ESV)