The Empire Fights Back
Lord of the impossible, I step into this day, seeking Your presence and leading. Thank You for Your Spirit’s work in me.
Read Matthew 4:1-11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (6:13). We need to remember that when we decide to take God seriously in devotion, we can be sure Satan will take us seriously in temptation.
When we become Christians, God grants us his Spirit. The Spirit is God in us empowering, restoring and leading us. We are often told that with God in us we will inevitably prosper. It comes as a shock, then, to see the first thing the Spirit did in Jesus–he led him into the wilderness to battle Satan! Notably, however, although he suffered, he overcame through the Spirit’s power. Whatever we face, if we trust in God, we will suffer but we can persevere as he did (1 Cor. 10:13; Rom. 8:31,37).
The temptation speaks of Christ’s identity and mission. Jesus again identifies with Israel. At his baptism, he identified with Israel’s Exodus; now he retraces Israel’s 40-year wilderness experience. Unlike Israel who failed, Jesus did not yield but overcame. He also identifies with fallen humanity. Whereas Adam with Eve failed to overcome the temptations of Satan (Gen. 3), the new Adam did not fail.
Jesus here sets the agenda for his mission. He fasted and prayed, anticipating his regular practice of wilderness prayer, the engine room of his life (Luke 5:16). He demonstrated his understanding and knowledge of Scripture, overcoming evil with God’s Word. When hungry and tempted, he refused to use his power to feed himself; rather, he fed others. When offered the kingdoms of the world the easy way, he refused, preferring the cross. When given the opportunity to give a sign to Israel, he refused, preferring the sign of the resurrection. His defeat of evil points to his mission: “doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” (Acts 10:38). Thank God “we do not have a high priest who is unable to feel sympathy for our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15).
Consider your own life. What are you facing? Where is the Spirit in this? How are your prayer life and Scripture reading? What needs to change? Reflect for a while.
Father God, every day I need Your empowering grace to walk victoriously in Your way. Release that grace upon me today as I endeavor to live faithfully for You.