June 30, 2014
From the desk of Dr. A.J. Higgins
The Savior in the Wilderness
“And Jesus . full of the Holy Ghost . was led by the Spirit into the wilderness”
He was never in the process of being filled with the Spirit; He was always full of the Holy Spirit. Each moment of His life here below was lived in full, unbroken fellowship with the Spirit of God. He was returning from Jordan where His Father had distinguished Him by the voice of approval from heaven. As others confessed sin to God, God was confessing His worth to men!
He was led by the Spirit to meet the foe. It was almost as if the Spirit of God was anxious to show Satan ‘man’ as God intended man to be. Here was the only “normal” Man Who ever lived. The Spirit of God had absolute confidence that here was a Man Who would not, indeed, could not, succumb to Satan’s wiles.
Adam fell in a garden; Israel wandered in a wilderness; David sinned in a palace. Surroundings and circumstances vary; Satan chose a wilderness to attack the Lord Jesus.
Reduced, on a human level, to weakness by forty days of fasting and continual temptation by Satan, the Lord Jesus faced the final three fiery darts of the wicked one. All of Satan’s wiles were concentrated in these final three attempts. An obvious and legitimate need is pointed to – His need for food. Yet the Lord Jesus showed that there was something even more essential. The spiritual always transcends the material. The bread test was quickly followed by the “blessing test.” Would He have the kingdoms, the blessing, and reject the Blessor by worshiping Satan?
The final test was an appeal to spiritual pride. Here is man’s weakest point. Pride is the mother of all sin; it is self-honor instead of honor for God. Yet, the Lord Jesus parried the tempter with the reminder that in His perfect manhood, He would not step out of the will of God and tempt His Father.
The order of the three temptations as given by Luke differs from that given in Matthew’s Gospel. In Matthew, the appeal to the kingdoms is the culminating test; this is fitting in the Gospel of the King. But in Luke, the Gospel of the perfect Man, the final test is the ultimate test all men face. It is the test of pride. How beautiful to see the humility, meekness, and dependence of this perfect Man: nothing could move Him from total, absolute, unqualified commitment to His God and Father. How fragrant those moments in the wilderness must have been to His Father!
“The devil . departed from Him for a season” (v 13). Had Satan ever had to slink away a defeated foe as he did here? His stratagems had usually been successful. His wiles had been honed over millennia and were, or so he thought, irresistible. But he was a defeated foe. But he only departed “for a season” to return again and again in subtle and varied ways. All culminated at the cross which was described by the Lord Jesus as being “your hour (man’s) and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53).