We are at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry now with Luke. Jesus has just finished being baptized by John in the river Jordan. During His baptism God sent miraculous signs to at least John to cement Jesus’ deity in John’s mind and heart. Now it is time for Jesus final preparations.
Before beginning this reading today, I was feeling discouraged and uncertain. Discouraged at the prospect of finding something new in our third visit to this scene. Needless to say, I’m glad there won’t be a fourth visit. I love the story and appreciate the importance of Jesus enduring this testing phase, but finding something new every time is VERY challenging. I know. It’s supposed to be God’s job to provide the insight but I still like knowing a little about where I’m going before starting off on our journeys. He doesn’t always grant me that privilege. After reading all the other posts I have done on this event, I decided to just jump in anyway. Once again, God met me at that point. So today we are going to talk about the Holy Spirit in the wilderness.
Luke tells us that Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit when he left for the wilderness. I noticed that Luke states Jesus “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for 40 days” (verse 1). I have wondered what Jesus did that whole time in the wilderness. I still have those questions but now I know a little bit more. Jesus wasn’t just led INTO to wilderness then left there to endure His temptation. The Holy Spirit stayed with Him the WHOLE time. The Holy Spirit probably gave Him daily directions and updates on progress in the spirit world. We know He spent time with God the Father, but this was different. The Spirit of God was now living within Jesus, as He would soon send Him to do with us. Jesus was led by the Spirit the same way we are. He was never without the comforter.
We also learn a bit more about Jesus’ adversary in Luke’s telling of the event. Luke shares the same three temptations that Matthew did, along with the same quotations from the Old Testament. But we also get a line that Matthew didn’t include. Luke states that, “When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from until an opportune time” (verse 13). This shows Satan throwing everything he had at Jesus at the time and failing. Satan didn’t have the ability to knock Jesus down but he wasn’t through trying. The devil withdrew to strategize and rethink his plans.
Satan uses this same tactic on us. He hits us HARD, especially when we are weak. He keeps coming with everything he has too. But there is HOPE in these times. It is the Holy Spirit. When we let Him fill up our lives we have the same power Jesus had to resist Satan’s schemes. THIS is what Jesus was modeling for us in the wilderness. Not simply the 40 days of fasting or the quoting of scripture in the battle, but the leaning on the Spirit as comforter, heart guard, and power to go through the battles.
Satan also uses the final tactic mentioned in this story, which is to retreat for a more opportune time. He thought he found it the day he got Judas to agree to betray Jesus to the religious leaders. But instead he lost that day, BIG TIME. That day marked the end of his reign. Yes, he still has power in the earth but those who put their faith and trust in Jesus are no longer bound by his tricks. When we turn over even the challenges that look like full scale defeat, GOD can turn them into victories. But this only happens when we let the Holy Spirit have HIS way in our lives. Let the Spirit of God snatch victory for you out of the jaws of destruction. He is ready, willing and able to do this kind of work in our lives, IF we let Him.
I have noticed too though that sometimes we don’t see the “victory” as a win until sometime later. Often it takes time to process or complete the redemption of the battle before we see the true victory won during the fight. Jesus’ disciples didn’t see the victory Jesus won on the cross for three days. Sometimes it takes years to see the victory. But you can be certain that when God is in control victory is assured.
That victory may not look like what we thought it should. An example might be the death of a loved one from a long term illness. Their death probably feels like a huge defeat, but if this person had a relationship with God, then their battle is over and they WON their eternity with God. Also there is no telling how many lives they touched during their struggle. How many people saw the positive outlook they carried, even on the toughest days. How their faith pointed others to the true victory in our fleeting lives. You may never know the number of conversations and honest questions about God that that single soul sponsored. Only God knows for sure, but you can be CERTAIN that He uses ALL our battles to bring about victories somewhere. And at the end there is nothing that can ever compare to hearing Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the rest prepared for you.”
Thank You God that You bring victory out of what looks like defeat. Thank You that You never abandon me in the middle of the fight. That You ALWAYS walk with me. Thank You that even when I think I can handle some fights on my own that You don’t leave me. That You don’t take a seat and wait until I crumble under the weight of the battle. But You stand beside me still, ready to block the blows I didn’t even see coming. You don’t tell me I’m too little to do it on my own, but help me grow securely by training me in the midst of the battles. Thank You for loving me enough to let me learn the hard lessons too. The lessons that not everything will come up roses all the time. Thank You for assuring me though that even when things don’t turn out exactly as I wanted them to that that too contains some victories. Help me see through Your eyes just what my struggles have wrought. The scars turned into points on the stars.