Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” 11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. [NIV]
Wilderness was no surprise to Jesus. He was there when it was created. He knew ahead of time about the temptations of life; food, immortality and power. I’ve read this passage so many times, but the very first phrase surprised me this time “Jesus was led by the Spirit” into the wilderness. It made me consider that our current wilderness hasn’t surprised Him either.
Jesus’s responses in that wilderness have become an important model for us because we are in a place of vulnerability today. Bread is important but every word that comes from the mouth of God is the food additive that sustains life. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” Forget the “birds-eye” view of all you could have…”if only.” Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ Temptations yield to that choice and the wilderness can become a protected preserve instead where angels may show up wearing a UPS uniform.