LED INTO THE WILDERNESS
One of the first things Jesus experienced after His baptism by John was a barren wilderness. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. The purpose? It is clearly stated: To be tempted by the devil. Read Matthew 4:1-11 before proceeding with today's devotion.
Jesus had been in the wilderness fasting for forty days when the enemy came to tempt Him. Isolated and hungry, the desert is a strategic time for attacks by the enemy. In the first temptation, the enemy suggested that Jesus make bread from stones. What would be wrong with that? After all, He was hungry and He had the power to do it. But Jesus responded with the Word of God declaring that "Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." If you read Deuteronomy chapter 8 from where Christ's response was drawn, you will see that the subject of the passage is Israel's hunger in the wilderness. The point of the chapter is that if Israel obeyed God, their needs would be provided. In His quotation, Jesus was drawing upon the whole context of the passage to illustrate that obedience is more important than fulfilling personal needs.
The second temptation by the enemy was for Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple mount. This time, Satan even used Scripture to support his appeal. After all, aren't angels supposed to bear you up (Psalm 91:11-12)? Christ's response was again drawn from Scripture, noting that we are not to test God. In essence He was saying, "I do not need a sign or to have a miraculous intervention to prove who God is or who I am in Him."
The third temptation was an appeal for Christ to worship the devil. In essence, Satan was saying "Why go through all the suffering that lies ahead. Just worship me, and I'll give you the kingdoms of the world right now!" Again, Jesus responded with the scriptures saying "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." This quote in Matthew 4:10 is drawn from Deuteronomy 6:13. Jesus already owned the kingdoms of the world and would receive His everlasting Kingdom in the perfect timing of God.
The first temptation had to do with knowing priorities in life--the priority of obeying the Word of God. The second temptation had to do with knowing your position in God. The third temptation had to do with fulfilling God's plan in His timing and His way--no shortcuts or alternate plans. These are issues you must settle in your own life, and very often they are settled as you are drawn by the Holy Spirit into the seclusion of a spiritual desert.
Throughout the remainder of His ministry, Jesus retreated often to the desert to rest (Luke 4:42). He also invited His disciples to come apart and rest in the desert (Mark 6:31). The place of testing became a place of resting. God is able to take your most difficult wilderness experiences and transform them into places that will provide spiritual rest and restoration to your soul.