I was recently a part of a conversation that made me stop and question what the Bible would say or how would have Jesus responded to this situation. It led me to a final question: “What would Jesus not have done?” We hear a lot about what Jesus did do. He fed the multitude. He healed the sick. Raised the dead back to life. What we do not hear a lot is what he did not do. What mistakes he did not make. And in my mind, that is just as great of importance as what He did do because it outlines what mistakes we take as human beings that He was able to avoid.
So, in all honestly, I am not sure who will read or benefit from this or if this will just be something for me or my loved ones to reflect back on after I am gone, but it is something that I want to research and grow within knowledge on for my own benefit if not anyone else’s. So, just as in what I am about to share, I am not sure why I was called to this but I know I was told to share so that is all I have been asked to do at this time so here we go.
Trials and temptations. It is the one of the few things in this life that no one will escape. Just like death, it is a certainty. So, if Jesus did not escape death, even as temporary as it was, then we can be certain that He too had to walk through the trials and temptations.
#1: He did not Question the Leading.
Matthew 4 begins with Jesus being lead by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. It does not state if He knew what He was being called into, but just that He was called. It also does not reference that He at any point stopped to question why He was being called into the wilderness or why He had to go through that trial. This is SOOO the opposite of what our natural response is to ANYTHING that makes us even uncomfortable. We run from it, we question it, we avoid it like the bloody plague. What we do not do that Jesus did was walk into it. Without question and without reservation, He went.
Now, I realize many people might reference this as that he was Jesus, God’s beloved Son, and what did He have to fear, but let me remind you that He was human at this time too. This is also reflected in the moments He was in the garden before being taken by the Romans when He cried to God to “take this cup from me if, but I want your will”. He also states to the disciples in that same scene that He was burdened with grief to the point of death”. So, you can see that He too felt the burden of life and responsibilities. The scriptures outline in several references His feelings of grief, fear and sadness. So, though some may hold Him to only a higher being, it is vital that we recognize that He did not avoid the same emotions that we all face. I say all of that to say this, His strength in those moments of walking into the wilderness and through the trials was in that He knew He was not alone. He knew in Who His strength lied. It clearly states that He was led by the Spirit and not that he went on his own accord. He was not alone and He knew that.
I could take this one scripture so much deeper, but I will be nice and try to avoid rambling so I do not miss this point. What if in our own lives when we were called by the Spirit to something we went willingly without question or reservation? I mean there is an expression that if He calls you to it, He will walk you through it…but in reality, how often do we apply this to the moments that we find ourselves walking into a trial and keep moving without fear? So, if we are to live our lives as a reflection of Jesus then how can we not rely on Him to carry us through it? He is still in control regardless of where we find ourselves. His plan has not changed. His love for you has not changed. Trust in that. Trust in Him.
#2: He was not played by the Devil.
If you read from versus 1-10 it outlines the three temptations that Devil presented Jesus with. It also displays Jesus’ response to every attempt the Devil made. In all three attempts, Jesus states “For the Scriptures state…” Who would have thought…the Man knew His scripture before walking into that wilderness. He did not walk into this unprepared. He did not in any point referenced in the story cry out and ask God to respond on His behalf. He handled it and He handled it using the best tool God had given Him in that moment- His word.
Trust me, I get it. I work a full time job plus a part time hobby, have a home with land to tend to, have two rotten children whose schedules are as crazy as mine, and an understanding husband who knows how crazy I get when I am overwhelmed. BUT I also know what it is like to feel empowered through studying and reading the Word. I know that through His Book He has carried me through the hardest moments of my life and I need it now just as much as I needed it in those moments. I know that when I get too busy to read I feel it and see it in my actions. Most importantly though, I know when I am in different moments of life, I can reference Bible verses that I have not looked at in months or years. I have grown in ways that the moment I need a reminder, God delivers because it has been planted in my heart. It takes an act of commitment to keep that relationship strong. It is no different than any other relationship. So, make the time or prepare to be unprepared for what comes at you.
#3: He did not underestimate the Devil.
Matthew 4:5-6 reads, “Then the Devil took Him to the holy city Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t ever hurt your foot on a stone.” You see, Jesus was not the only one who showed up to this showdown being prepared. The Devil knows his scripture and he knows how to play the game.
Now think about this, the Devil had years to prepare for this, but also keep in mind, there was and has only been one Jesus. He did not have generations of “Jesuses” (Yes, I know as well as spell check that this is not a word.) to test and play with to see what would “get to Him” and the Devil still made some pretty impressive arguments. With that take away, how many generations has the Devil had to play with to prepare for you? We all know it is more than generation.com can track, so how do you not think he is even more so prepared for you. Did he have more at stake if he could tempt Jesus into a scheme, yes, but he was not after Jesus soul in this story, his ultimate goal from the beginning to the end is for yours. He has and will always be gunning for you and the rest of mankind. Take it personal. I promise, it will not hinder this trial in any way. On the contrary, it would be to your benefit to be mad about it a little. You know, I tell my kids, the only person they should ever be mad at is the Devil. Every trial and tribulation in your life is revolved around his doings. God didn’t design it this way. Death was not by His design. Hate was not by His design. We as a Christian body will get to experience His design on the Heaven side of things, but as for now, in this life time, get mad about it. Be prepared that he is likely going to come at your hard at moments in your life and like Jesus, be ready to fight against his attempts to shake you down. He’s given you the tools to be successful through it, so prepare yourself.
#4: He did not flee from the Devil…on the contrary…
Verse 11 reads that the Devil went away. Just like that, it ends and he leaves. You notice it does not state anywhere for you have to running shoes on and to anticipate trying to outrun him. Probably because you cannot outrun him, not on this side of things you can’t anyways. He is going to be a constant through this lifetime and as they say, the closer you get the harder he will come at you. Scriptures do state in James 4; however, “Resist the Devil and he will flee.” This had me for a second. It is certainly a blessed thing to not be the one running (if you know me, you will understand why I say that), but I felt there was something more there. So then God opened up the heavens and a dove appeared to me with an image of what I am about to share with you…not really, that is my sad attempt to be theatrical. He really communicates with me like a brick up against the head.
The beauty of what I really see in this is that the Devil leaves, not you. Think about it. What is going to outlast God or God’s love? It is not the Devil, he left that on Heaven’s footsteps long ago. But you, as one of God’s children, will also outlast the Devil. He is the one that will go away, not you! Long after his schemes are put to the end, you- my friend, will still be. These trials and the temptations that he throws at you will be long gone before we even know it, but God’s glory will last forever. Hold onto that in the moments that you need it. Recite Philippians 4:13 as much as you need to. Scream it if you need to. Remind yourself that through God’s strength you can do this and you will come out ahead of the one who is plotting against you.
#5: He did not miss the benefits from this experience
This is a part of this that I had not planned on. I was sitting there reading again what I had read and noting away in my journal when this caught my eye. At the end of this story it leads into the rest of Jesus’ story and it actually states “the beginning of Jesus’ ministry”. I saw a Biblical reference in my Bible that stated the remaining was topical and not chronological so I wanted to verify where my thoughts were going with this. Sure enough, Matthew, Mark, and Luke (I stopped at three because I was taught that three references confirmed anything in school, but you can certainly check out John if you just really need that fourth confirmation.) all place Jesus being tempted in the wilderness before it starts into his ministry.
Now, I do not know if God felt that Jesus needed that trial to see him through His years of ministry or if He felt we would need the illustration, but from all that I can gather He placed it there for a reason so I am going to run with what my heart tells me and if you have other thoughts than you are certainly entitled to that as well.
If God placed that trial before Jesus began his ministry then do you not feel that it is possible that the trial that you are in might not also be for your benefit and His glory as well? I may just be speaking personally, but I have a lot of issues and if Jesus (the only Mr. Perfect to walk this Earth) benefited from that trial then I can certainly understand Him giving me more than just one to walk through. And maybe I will never know why I have and will face some of my personal trials, but I have learned to not question Him in His Dealings. After all, I am the child in this relationship. Learn to trust in Him through whatever you are facing and pray that whatever you are going through will strengthen you to do what He is called you to next.
Remember: God Loves You Most.