“Then the devil left him, and the angels came and attended him.” (Matthew 4:11)
Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness and was tempted by Satan three times. The temptations Satan used reached to the core of a man’s heart. And for a father, the intent of the temptation is to drive him apart from his family.
When I was a boy, I faced very real temptation – a dare if you will, from a neighbor boy who wanted me to jump off a log into the pond below. What eventually stopped me from jumping into the pond? Was it the fear of getting my clothes wet? Possibly. Was it the fear of the cold and muddy water and not being able to swim? Maybe. Was it fear from the wrath of my mother and the certain spanking from my dad once they found out why my clothes got all wet? Definitely! My parents had already invested time and energy to ingrain into my head the ability to discern between right and wrong. Through trial and error, punishment and reward, I was able to decide for myself that jumping into the pond was not a good idea. My parents knew the dangers awaiting me by making wrong decisions. The knowledge of a forthcoming punishment as a consequences of my actions had instilled a fear to guide me away from and wrong and keep me safe….. and dry. A spanking reaffirmed my parent’s wisdom and serve as a reminder on the importance of making the right choices in the future, no matter how tough they may be. This fear unknowingly granted me expanded freedom to make decisions on my own and not be locked up in the yard under strict parental protection.
God allowed Jesus to be tested in the wilderness just as He allows us to be tempted by the devil. Mankind has been removed from God’s private yard with all its comfort and sense of protection, and placed us directly by a dirty pond with a fallen log tempting us to jump in. We have the freedom to make decisions in our life. Will we use fear and discipline to fight off temptation or succumb by jumping into the pond of sin and suffer the consequences? The devil does not cause us to sin, but rather he only tempts us to sin. The decision is up to us. God knew Jesus was prepared and ready to withstand the devil, only if Jesus relied on Him for strength and wisdom. His ordeal would serve as a means to help prepare for the events to come, especially on Calvary. Jesus used the recipe for wisdom to understand the folly of Satan’s ways and overcome any kind of “double dare.”
Jesus was comforted by the angels after His trial in the wilderness. In His exhausted state, He was carefully attended to and bathed in peace and tranquility. I believe God comforts us in the same way. There are times when our spirit is weak with impatience, unfulfilled expectations and a feeling of separateness from God’s presence. We have days when we feel like we are wading in waist-high muck, feeling too tired to take another step. Through perseverance and resilience to stay on God’s path, He comes to comfort us by hearing our call. In the most unexpectant times and places, God gives us a peace which transcends all understanding and encompasses our hearts, mind and body. He offers a hedge of protection from the devil until we are fully recovered. We then discover through our adversity, we have become stronger. We praise and rejoice in knowing God was always by our side.