Led by the Spirit into the Wilderness
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.
When we read about Satan’s temptations which he put before Jesus in the wilderness after his baptism, we usually focus on the temptations themselves. But have we ever stopped to consider what was going on in the background, the days leading up to those temptations?
The wilderness of Judea was a terrible place during Jesus’ day. He was out there all alone, with no companions but wild beasts (Mark 1:13) and nothing to eat for a full forty days. A month, a week, and three days with no food. Think about that. Put yourself in Jesus’ place. You’re walking around, slowly approaching complete starvation, your energy and stamina sapped by the lack of food and the hot Middle Eastern sun, likely being stalked or even chased by wild animals who want you for a meal.
And here’s the biggest concept to think about. Luke says that Jesus “was led by the Spirit” into that awful ordeal. That means that God not only knew about the terrible suffering his Son was going through so soon after the joy of his baptism, but he initiated it! The Holy Spirit led Jesus into that awful ordeal, knowing that it would end with Satan’s tempting the Son of God when he was at his physical weakest! Why would God do such a thing?
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.