We have learned much about Satan in the desert temptation encounter with Jesus. He attacks when we are vulnerable, alone, and exhausted. He is always offering a shortcut way to live independently from God. He is out to destroy us and make the wrong path look to be the most inviting path. But in the desert temptations, we learn more about Jesus. Here are three important takeaways.
First, we see what kind of a Messiah Jesus is. Although he is God and possesses all the divine attributes, he surrendered to God’s will. He took on the “form of a servant” and humbled himself all the way to the cross. Paul says it like this in his letter to the Philippians.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Second, he was tempted in every way as we are, “yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). When we are tempted, we either give in or get out. But Jesus is the only one who has experienced the full force of temptation. Anyone been to a tractor pull? Imagine being hooked up to one of those powerful machines. Your job is to stand your ground as the tractor tries to knock you down. How long would you last? Not long. In short order, the tractor would drag you to the ground. You would experience only a small fraction of the tractor’s force. But what if you were able to pull against the tractor at its maximum horsepower and never give in? You would have experienced the full power of the machine. That’s what Jesus did. Because he never gave in to temptation, he experienced temptation’s full force, yet without sin.
Third, Jesus did not use supernatural powers in his encounter with Satan. Instead, he used the weapon of the Word of God. He understood it, believed it, and obeyed it. The same weapon Jesus used is available to each of us in our battle. Beginning tomorrow, we will consider the armor that we are to use for our spiritual battle. We will discover the power of “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Much of our spiritual armor is for protection, but the sword of the Spirit is the weapon of offense that drives Satan away. That’s why we must be in God’s Word every day. Read it. Meditate on it. Memorize it. Keep your sword sharp! Always be battle ready!
Thank you for showing us how to engage and win the spiritual battle. Remind us that the battle can only be fought and won in your strength. Help us to put on the full armor…to buckle up and be battle ready. In your name, we pray. Amen.