The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
YHWH is not benign! He holds to a standard far beyond our imagination and rally’s all of His strength and power to maintain that standard. When the standard of His perfection is not upheld then we discover his sever attention given to the matter. Jesus is no exception.
It was the custom of kings to be tested before receiving the crown. Leonidas the valiant King of Sparta who withstood the mighty army of Persia at the Battle of Thermopylae, had been trained in the Agoge, a school that trained young men for citizenship and leadership in Sparta. It was a rugged school and many washed out; a school that movies are made of but this was nothing compared to what Jesus endured for the forty days in the wilderness.
Of all people Jesus is forcefully driven into the wilderness by none other than the Holy Spirit. The God-Man is expelled from society not by the hand of men but by the hand of God. There is no delay either. Immediately after His baptism his direction is aimed to a desert place in Judea to be alone and to learn to fight!
His fight would not be for a nation nor would it be with swords and shields. His fight would be against the author of all-evil, not one of his emissaries but the Satan himself. The two would meet head on and only one would emerge victorious.
Mathew adds that Jesus fasted the entire time. For forty days Jesus ate nothing. He slept on the ground wrapped in his robe, drank from the brooks where water could be found and engaged in continual combat with the Devil. Again Mathew lets us know of three distinct temptations the devil presented to Christ but it would be fair to assume that the bombardment of these seductions far exceeded the number three.
Day after day the salvos came. Ruthless, incessant, cruel, the devil knew no mercy. Yet Jesus never yielded nor did he have a pity party. He held firm and gloriously repelled each attack. The Devil had met his match! Jesus would now become his worst nightmare!
In our case such seasons either make you or break you. All that Jesus took on himself for us obviously did not include our periods in the desert, those times of serious testing and preparation. Our commission is born in the hearts of men and women who have passed the test and these are the ones who emerge as a force to be reckoned with. They bear the marks of the desert and are noticed by those who have experienced the same. Maybe they could be called “Comrades in arms!”
But we return to that lonely struggle in the Judean hills. Hills that had drank the blood of David’s enemies now witnessed a victory that far surpassed former battles. Eventually it was the devil that gave up. The fight had come to a lull but would continue for another three and one half years. Future battles would be fought and Jesus would emerge without even so much as a scratch but this struggle during these forty days did not leave Jesus unscathed.
Angels we are told came and ministered to him. There were no crowds, no applause no face book posts, just solitude and angels!
The world was about to see a man like no other!
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. (ESV)