WOW! Check out the chain of events contained within this short passage of Scritpure.
In Matthew 3:17 heaven was opened, the Spirit descends on Jesus, and God's voice declares from heaven "this is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." In Matthew 4:1, the very next verse, Jesus is led BY THE SPIRIT into the desert to be tempted.
WHEW. WOW. There is so much depth in this verse! I find so much encouragement from its message. I can't tell you how many times after God declared incredible promises that I've experience chapter 4 verse 1. I hear God declare the incredible only to find myself in the desert, wondering if I somehow lost his favor or made Him mad. Ever struggle similarly?
I find comfort to see nothing changed about God's opinion of Jesus in the blink of time that existed between verses seventeen of chapter three and verse one of chapter four. Here's what I take away from this short passage of Scripture:
- God was pleased with Jesus.
- Who Jesus was and His mission wasn't changed because of His circumstances.
- Jesus' trial was not a reflection of God's displeasure which means just because we are in the desert doesn't immediately mean God is angry or displeased with our life.
- Sometimes God leads us by HIS SPIRIT into times of trial...not to harm us...not to crush us...not to be cruel or because He is bored...BUT to align our heart with His and to secure our identity in HIM alone. Looking at how Christ was tempted and the lessons in those temptations is really powerful but would take too much time for one blog. Let me just say--if you haven't read Jesus' temptations or asked God their implications you should. Check them out at Matthew 4: 1-11.
- Jesus examples demonstrate how we can overcome--through the truth of God's Word. Jesus used God's Word to combat the lies of the enemy.
- Finally, just as suddenly as God revealed Who Jesus was and then a suddenly as Jesus is tempted, Jesus is just as suddenly ministered to by anges and His desert experience ends. I love when the desert periods of my life come to an end and I can sense God's presence again. Don't you?
1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (NIV)
God has promised to NEVER leave us. He will fulfill His promises. So, stand strong.
Remember the promise found in Deuteronomy 31:6, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." (NIV)