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February 18, 2011

Been trying to think a bit upon the opening words of Luke 4 today which tell us “And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil.”

1. No one escapes being in the “wilderness” who follows God; even the Son of God was led there (Mark’s version has “compelled” which one commentator says is “strong language. The Spirit “compelled Jesus to go” to the wilderness, where he met Satan, another cosmic figure. The encounter was not accidental, but would show Jesus’ superiority to Adam as a representative of humanity).

2. Being full of the Spirit does not preclude us from being brought by Him into difficulty, hardship (which the wilderness often represents).

3. Being full of the Spirit is the preparation needed before we encounter difficulty and hardship in the wilderness.

4. The “wilderness” is a place of testing wherein character is forged and/or revealed. Here the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery helpfully explains

If there is anything distinctive to the test motif in the Bible, it is the testing that transpires between God and people. In keeping with the providential assumption of the Bible that all events in a person’s life are ultimately arranged by God, we find the motif of God’s testing people. While this is explicitly stated only a dozen times [as here in Luke 4 – SS], it is impossible to read the stories of the Bible without interpreting the events that test the human characters as from God, to determine characters’ moral and spiritual standing.

And consider further this from Darrell Bock: “Tests of character are divinely wrought, even when they place us at risk” (emphasis mine).

5. God provides for us as we trust him in the wilderness. Though a place frought with danger and temptation to evil, God has given us elsewhere this great promise banked on by so many of God’s people:  “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 18, 2011 4:45 PM

    Very good, and a blessing. When we are tested God is proven our character. Romans 5:1-5.

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