Alright, as we continue the slowest moving study of the book of Luke ever, Jesus is finally on the scene full force. He shows up and is baptized by John the Baptist, and the Holy Spirit descends upon him, God speaks and says that this is His son and He’s pleased with him, and then Jesus is led to do something I find very peculiar.
Luke 4:1-2 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
It’s not exactly the first step you’d expect for the beginning of a ministry, but it was vitally important that Jesus know all there was about temptation. Our God’s not one to just shake His finger at us, I love how in Jesus the love of God is put into action. Jesus, being perfect, could’ve effectively taught about avoiding temptation no matter what. But he went out of his way to do take the difficult path, to prove his perfection by exposing himself to temptations as a man and proving that they could be conquered. It also draws us closer to him, because now we know he can relate to the temptations we suffer in our lives.
We’re going to fast forward a bit to get to my point today, but just in case you’ve never read it, a very weak Jesus (remember, he’s in the desert and going 40 days without any food) successfully resists the devil’s temptations multiple times. And that leads us to this moment.
Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
Do you know what feels amazing? Resisting the devil. Sometimes I’ll come under powerful temptation and one of my favorite feelings in the world is that triumphant moment when you resist and you sense, true to scripture, the devil flee and that temptation break off of you. But look very closely at the verse above. When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity. The devil’s not a one and done kind of enemy. A time will come when he is forever defeated, but for right now he’s on the prowl, and a single triumph over him doesn’t equal freedom from further temptation down the road.
Here’s why I feel like this is super important for us to look at. When we win a battle, the tendency is to relax. We just drove the enemy away, it’s time to take a breather, chill out maybe, grab a soda, sit on the porch, whatever you do to relax. But even when he was coming against Jesus, the devil didn’t get defeated and disappear forever, he was already looking toward the next opportunity. The devil is a great schemer and a shrewd tactician. If he sees that once you resist him you then relax your guard, guess what? He’s going to plan a follow-up attack.
James 4:7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
That’s true, but so also is this.
1 Peter 5:8 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
He flees when we resist him, but don’t trick yourself into thinking he goes very far. The devil has a keen eye for weakness, he strikes when we least expect, when we’re least prepared. We should rejoice in our victories over temptation, but don’t let your guard down. Don’t stop being watchful for the next attack. I believe in my heart we’re at a tipping point for those following Jesus. If you’re willing to commit all to Jesus, he’s going to do amazing things and lead you on incredible adventures. The devil knows it too, and right now he’s eager to drag some people down and keep them from the beautiful things God has planned. Let’s all stay vigilant and keep one another in prayer so we can continually foil the devil’s schemes and temptations.
You know, before I end today’s blog, there’s one more thing this moment in the book of Luke is showing us that I want to talk about. Whatever you’re going through, whatever temptations are taunting you and maybe tearing you apart, Jesus suffered through them, too.
Hebrews 4:15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.
Too many people I know let their shortcomings and sin pull them away from Jesus instead of pulling them toward him. Jesus gets it, guys, he gets it. We don’t always resist the devil, we don’t always win that battle of temptation. That doesn’t make us unable to approach Jesus. That doesn’t mean we need to go hide in shame. It means we have a savior who we can talk to, who will fully understand what we’re going through. Ask Jesus about the temptation that is tripping you up, ask him to help you deal with it the way he dealt with it. I hate when I see struggles keep people from God when one of the huge benefits of God is that He’s there to help us with our struggles. He loves us through the failures just as He loves us in the triumphs.
Jesus understands what it is to be tempted. You are not too dirty or too shameful or too broken to approach him. He loves you exactly as you are, he understands what it feels like to be tempted, and he’s waiting to lovingly help you overcome the things that are defeating you in life.
That’s it for today. I just have such a heart full of love today, there’s something in this moment in Luke that so beautifully leads down a path to our Savior’s love for us. He went through it for us. He understands our struggles. That empowers me, and it makes me feel loved, and I hope it does the same for all of you.
I love you guys. Prayer requests or just wanna chat, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!