(Luke 4: 1-13) 1 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. 3 Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’” 5 Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. 7 I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” 8 Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”
9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! 10 For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
11 And they will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
12 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 13 When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
I was in a conversation not too long ago, in which I was listening to someone share with me about her current troubles and frustrations with life. As I responded with the typical, “I understand” and “I know how you feel,” I felt as though I seemed apathetic…like I was simply filling the silence with meaningless responses because I didn’t know what to say, which was not the case at all. Because so many seem to respond to the heartache and woes of others in much the same way, I felt the need to explain to this person why I actually do understand her, and how much I do actually know how she feels.
Sometimes people need to know your story, to hear your temptations and even your failures, because they long to have that connection with someone else…to know that they are not alone in their trials and temptations. In the midst of drowning in a sea of guilt, people find comfort in knowing there’s a survivor in the distance…someone with a lifeline…a way out.
This description of Jesus being tempted by Satan is strangely comforting to me, because I love knowing that my Savior, the Word in flesh, in all of His perfection and divinity, He was tempted. Not only was He tempted, but the Spirit of God led Him into the wilderness to be tempted. Why? Why would the Holy Spirit wish to test Jesus in such a way? It’s not that there was ever any doubt that the Son of God would resist the cunning words of Satan, rather it was done so that we could and would have that point of connection with Him. He was fully human, and because temptation is such a monumental part of our existence…we are surrounded by it, and at times we are consumed with it…Jesus had to experience it. In Christ, we find not only our Savior, fully God, righteous and blameless in every way, but we also find a man, filled with compassion and empathy, tested and tempted, who we may always look to as our example of victory and hope. He is our survivor in the distance, reaching out to us through the storm.
(Hebrews 4: 14-16, The Message) Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the grace that comes to us because Jesus understands our temptations. He was victorious, therefore we too can be victorious! Help us to remember that sometimes the best way to help someone else through their temptations and failures is to be transparent enough for them to see that we have also had our own share of tests. Lord, we are all working toward the same goal…to one day look upon Your face. May we always, “take the mercy, accept the help.” Amen.