“The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him”
(Mark 1:12-13, NLT).
Jesus’ baptism marked the beginning of his public ministry. John the Baptist had been the talk of Israel, and hundreds were going out to see him, hear him preach, and be baptized as a sign of repentance from sin. John told the crowd, “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am – so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals” (Mark 1:7). When Jesus arrived at the Jordan River where John was baptizing, John exclaimed, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus requested baptism as well. Although reticent at first, John baptized him, and when Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended, and a voice from heaven declared, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy” (Mark 1:11).
From a purely human standpoint, that would have been an ego moment: dramatic entrance, great crowds, heavenly declaration. Often a high point like that is followed by a low, as the person at the peak begins to think too highly of him- or herself and tumbles.
But there was no ego trip for Jesus. Immediately following this dramatic event, empowered by the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the crowds behind and took the offensive against the enemy, Satan, by going into the lonely and desolate wilderness to fight temptation. The fact that Jesus was “compelled” to go there doesn’t mean he was reluctant but rather that Jesus was determined to go, in agreement with the Sprit. (Notice that Satan is real and personal, not an idea or force. A fallen angel, Satan, the devil, is the powerful enemy of God and his people. He should be taken seriously. But at the same time, we should know Jesus is more powerful and no match for Satan. Amen!).
Think about this: The writer of Hebrews explains that Jesus “faced all of the same testing we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus would have been vulnerable – suddenly alone – away from his followers and the crowd, in a hostile environment and hungry. When Jesus became a living, breathing human being, he submitted himself fully to human limitations. He would have felt elation at his baptism, sensing the closeness of his Father and excitement about beginning his public ministry. Then he would have felt the chill of the wind as he sat on the hard ground. He would have experienced gnawing hunger and thirst. The temptation were real.
From Jesus’ experience we learn that God may lead us into dangerous and intense spiritual battles. We won’t always feel good; in fact, we will have times of deprivation, loneliness, and hostility. It also teaches us that Jesus did, in fact, experience extreme temptations; he knows what we’re facing, and he knows how we feel. Therefore, Jesus is able to deliver us from evil and temptations. Isn’t our God is understanding, personal and awesome? Praise God.
Jesus, the God-man, was willing to suffer temptation in order to understand you
and to show you the way to stand against it. Jesus is able. God is good.
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.
Life Application Study Bible Devotional: Daily Wisdom from the Life of Jesus (Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2011)