Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be temptedby the devil. Matthew 4:1
Have you ever considered that the temptations you experiences are from the devil? When you’re tempted to get one more serving of food, when you’re tempted to speed in a construction zone, when you’re tempted to pad that expense report, when you’re tempted to flirt with the neighbor, you’re being tempted by the devil.
Don’t beat yourself up: I’ve been there, just like you. We all have. Yet it took reading this simple news-verse to realize that it is the devil, Satan himself, who sends temptations my way. And yours. He personally attacks us because our connection to Jesus threatens him. That doesn’t let us off the hook; we’re each responsible for our choices. But that little chess game of life where the pieces line up temptations for us? That’s Satan.
It’s a good things Jesus plays chess, too. In fact, you and I know He already called “check mate” on the devil. It happened that first Easter. Our salvation: There’s no going back on it; nothing can take it away, not even Satan tempting us endlessly. And still: one more bite; just one more drink; just one more hour worrying about things out of our control. We don’t have to give in, but we do. Got skin, got sin.
While we’re here, let’s say it: on the surface, it seems cruel that God would personally manifest at Jesus’ baptism, then His Spirit would lead Him into a lonely, barren place to be tempted to sin. It seems grossly unfair, like some twisted Greek tragedy. The Son is publicly, beautifully blessed on the banks of the Jordan, then He’s led away by His ethereal brother, Holy Spirit, to be set before Satan. If that’s all you knew, you’d think God is a cruel puppet master.
Now, don’t forget something important before either of us falls into another temptation and judges God. Jesus went willingly. Nobody forced Him. He was still fully God and He could have said “no” and still been perfect, but He didn’t. He went along with it…for our benefit. He went forty long, lonely, dry, grueling days without food or friend before Satan showed his cowardly face and tried to move a few chess pieces.
Jesus did it for our benefit. Just like He was baptized so we could know He is one of us, He willingly submitted to temptation so that we’d know the same. We can stand up to temptation. We have a choice, many choices, in fact. It can be done.
Not today, Satan. Check; you lose. The attack may come from a supernatural devil. My response comes from my very real Savior, here and now.
For more reading: Genesis 3:1-7, Job 1:6-22, Hebrews 4:15, Matthew 4:1
Lord, how tough it must have been on You to suffer in the desert. Praise and all my thanks to You for doing it, though.