January 12, 2019
This account has always puzzled me.
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil.” Matt 4:1
Why did the Spirit lead Jesus to a place of temptation? Later, when Jesus was teaching His disciples to pray, He included a plea to “lead us not into temptation”.
Maybe this is because He knew what it was like to be led into temptation.
The situation probably involved God ordaining that Jesus suffer the ultimate force of temptation, to fulfill His perfection in keeping the law.
Also, it enabled the Scripture to declare later that “He was tempted in all points like we are, yet without sin”, and “you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your own blood” (like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane).
Still, it seems to contradict what we think of the holiness of God, that He would lead His Son (or anyone) directly into the path of temptation.
Elsewhere His Word says to “flee temptation”, yet here He intentionally sets the scene for it. The book of James says God is not tempted by evil, and He tempts no one, but we are led away by our own desires and enticed.
So, although Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted, God having put Him in the place where it would happen, God did not directly tempt Him.
I hope that’s not splitting hairs. It is hard to think of the Spirit leading me somewhere to be tempted by Satan. This probably applies only to the singular Person of Jesus.
Something else is interesting about the story of the temptation of The Messiah.
“Then Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread throughout the entire vicinity.” Luke 4:14
We don’t normally see temptation as the path to power in the Spirit. We want to avoid it. It seems degrading and depressing. We sometimes feel dirty after strong temptation.
Jesus had severe testing for a month and ten days. Obviously, this short account covers the highlights. These temptations must have come to Him again and again, or they persisted in their insistence. Possibly there were other temptations not mentioned here.
Why do I say this? Because Luke’s account reports that the Devil left Jesus “for a time” after he had “finished every temptation.” This implies to me that more went on than what is reported. It also implies that Jesus would face temptation again.
When the siege was over, the next thing we learn is that Jesus was “in the power of the Spirit”. That’s surprising until you reflect more deeply on it, and is worth remembering.
“God will provide a way of escape”. That is a promise of the power of God.