Jesus Our Perfect Example: Lessons From The Wilderness Part One
Over the coming weeks, I will walk through Matthew 4 to pick some very important life lessons from Jesus‘ time in the wilderness. Now, Jesus‘ forty days and forty nights spent in the wilderness, goes beyond just fasting and prayer. It was primarily a period of preparation for his ministry. From the pages of Scriptures, the wilderness life seems to have a special place in the making of great lives.
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Moses was driven into the wilderness to be prepared for his assignment. David was in the wilderness tendering sheep. Joseph spent time in the wilderness of a prison. John the Baptist endured the same. You see, God is a consistent God; He doesn't compromise His word. His nature is the same. He prepares every human vessel He uses―and Jesus who was fully God and fully human was not spared the process. He had to experience what all human vessels of God experience.
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15).
The wilderness experience differs for everyone, but it signifies a period of dryness, loneliness, obscurity, lack, hardship, failure and hopelessness in a person's life. There's only one agenda in the wilderness; Preparation to empty us of self and make us more dependent on God.
In this post, I will look at the first verse in Matthew four:
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil (Matthew 4:1).
1. Submission To The Spirit.
Then was Jesus LED UP OF THE SPIRIT into the wilderness....
Throughout His earthly ministry, we see the Holy Spirit actively involved in Jesus' life. The Holy Spirit was involved in His conception (see Matthew 1:18). In Matthew 3:16-17, Jesus was confirmed as the Son of God by The Holy Spirit. Luke 4:18-19 shows the full extent of involvement of the Holy Spirit in Jesus‘ ministry.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Now, if Jesus' whole earthly life was lived in submission to the Spirit, then we mortals dare not attempt to live our lives independent of the Holy Spirit. Human wisdom is not enough. Human skills and talents are not enough to live victoriously: "...Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord..." (Zechariah 4:6).
To live victorious lives as Christians, we have to submit to the Spirit and let Him have control over our lives. One of the cardinal signs of any child of God is that, they live by the dictates of the Spirit: "...as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons[children] of God." (Romans 8:14). Today, make a commitment to submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit because "...to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6).
2. Wait on God's Timing
If you consider the verses preceding Matthew 4:1, i.e. Matthew 3:16-17, you will notice that, prior to Matthew 4:1; Jesus experienced a highly intense spiritual moment ― The heavens was opened unto Him, The Holy Spirit descended on Him, His calling and identity was confirmed. He was ready for greater works. The obvious thinking here is that we should see Him straight away preaching to crowds, performing miracles and going straight about the Father's business; but no, the Spirit led(drove) Him into the wilderness―a place of desolation, dryness, lack, hardship, obscurity and loneliness.
It just doesn't make sense; He should have gone straight to town and announce His presence. But God hasn't finished preparing His vessel yet. He needed to spend some more time learning to wait and depend on the Father in obscurity―the wilderness: "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8). Remember the twelve year old Jesus who sat with doctors of the law and they marvelled at His understanding?
Note that, at twelve years, He could have easily started ministry; but that would be out of divine calendar. So when His earthly parents came for Him, He went home with them and “...was subject unto them...“ (Luke 5:21) until the right time. Are you in any wilderness situation? Do you feel hemmed in by life situations? You might sense delays in your life, though you are a child of God. You know you are called, but things are not working. Don‘t panic―you‘re in a preparatory peroid in your life. Keep holding on, at the right time, God's glory will be revealed in your life: "he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold." (Job 23:10)
(3): Trials, Temptations and Challenges Are Part of The Divine Plan
Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be TEMPTED OF THE DEVIL (Matthew 4:1).
A question by a friend ―Michael Appiah-Duku ― "Does God tempt people?", generated a discussion which helped fine tune my thoughts. Now, considering the prayer “lead us not into temptation“ and James‘ caution that "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God...," Matthew 4:1 becomes quite problematic in interpretation.
However, upon careful consideration, you will note that Jesus was not led into the wilderness to be tempted by God. He was led in there to be tempted by the devil. What this means is that, though, God doesn't tempt anyone with evil; in His Sovereignty and divine plan, He allows both good and evil to achieve His divine purposes. Unfortunately, the Christian life in our days has largely become synonymous to a good life and comfortable living. To many, God is with us when everything is going well. When things are not going as we expect, then we conclude God doesn't love us.
Recently, I saw a note somewhere which read, "If it's not good, God is not in it" I paused and thought to myself! What happened to "...all things work together for good to them that love God..." This is not revelation; it is a fact and common knowledge every believer must know. We have not been called to a trouble free life. There's no guarantee that we have been quarantined from the trials, temptations and challenges of this word: "...man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.(Job 5:7).
If you are not convinced, hear Jesus Himself:
If you are not convinced, hear Jesus Himself:
"... In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33).If Jesus faced temptations, brace yourself, there are pitfalls ahead; but know also that God sustains those who depend on Him. Fear not!