| It was time for Christ's public
ministry to begin. But wait! First He must pass a crucial
test. He must exhibit to Satan that He was the Son of God. He
must confirm to him that the Son of God has power over the
devil and his wiles. Satan would have liked nothing better
than to have God's plan for the salvation of man to fail.
JESUS DID NOT FAIL. HE PASSED THE CRITICAL TEST.
Time: About 27
Place: In the Wilderness
Jesus and Satan.
Scripture: Matthew 4:1-11; Mark
1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13; John 1:29-51
Straight away after His
baptism, Jesus vanished from the crowd. The Spirit of God led
Him into the wasteland, where He was tempted of the devil.
Jesus must demonstrate to Satan--the father of evil--that he
could not gain authority over Him, the Son of man-Son of
Everything was deathly silent. The murmur and rumble of
the crowd that had gathered by the River Jordan during His
baptism was all of a sudden gone. Jesus looked around Him. A
blast of hot wind laden with sand hit Him in the face. He was
bewildered. Where was He? Just moments before, He had been
standing in the presence of God, hearing His Father's voice
booming out: "Behold the Lamb of God,
which taketh away the sins of the world... This is my Beloved
Son, in whom I am well pleased... Hear Him."
Jesus lifted His eyes to heaven. But it seemed that the
heavens were closed to Him. All He could see in the vast
emptiness of the heavenlies were vultures circling around,
searching for prey, waiting for the inevitable—a victim of the
desert. He called out to His Father, but instead of an answer
He felt a presence. But it was not the presence of God. It was
the eerie presence of evil. "Oh Father," He cried out, but
instead of hearing the comfort of His Father's voice he heard
a sneering laugh. Jesus fell on His knees. He knew what His
mission on earth was. He knew that His Father had sent Him
into the world to die for mankind. But was this the way He was
to die? Here? In this wilderness? As God, He knew His purpose.
As Man, He felt vulnerable. Doubts assailed Him. Would He be
able to complete His mission? Would He fail God? NO! He would
not. Despite the desperate loneliness and the feeling that He
had been abandoned, Jesus continued to pray. He entreated His
Heavenly Father for strength.
As He knelt to pray He
could feel the heat beating down on His head. The hot winds
blew constantly. He drew His mantle around His head to keep
the sand from His nostrils, but the choking sand seeped
through His pores. He longed for a drink of cold, clear water,
but there was none. Soon the night fell. Perhaps now He would
have some respite from the stinging sand and heat. But
instead, the night air grabbed Him, piercing through His
garments. He shivered. His eyes drooped. Stretching out on the
ground He closed His eyes, hoping that sleep would overtake
Him, relieving Him of His discomfort. But it didn't happen.
Soon he heard the pathetic howls and eerie laughing of hyenas.
Or was it that PRESENCE again, that sinister PRESENCE that He
had felt before? He called again to His Father in heaven. But
the heavens were closed to Him. Oh the emptiness, the
solitude, the desperate feeling of loneliness! Even God had
deserted Him. Soon pure exhaustion brought on a fitful sleep,
but even then He had no peace. In the background He could hear
that evil laughter. He felt the sting of the night crawlers
and insects that hid by day, coming out in the cold of the
night to torture any victims they could find. In the morning
He awoke, desperately hungry and thirsty, with no prospects of
"So You're hungry…Ha! Ha! Ha! You, the Son of
God, the Bread of Life!" There was that laughing, sneering
voice that wasn't a voice, just a PRESENCE, laughing,
sneering, yipping, howling. "And You are thirsty...Hee, Hee!
You, who call Yourself the Living Water! Look at You,
scratching the earth for water, tearing at cactus for
droplets. Ha! Ha! Where is Your Heavenly Father now? You are
going to fail. You are going to fail."
The air was thick with the EVIL PRESENCE. Jesus, prostrate
on the ground, longed for relief. But He would not fail! HE
WOULD NOT FAIL! Desperate for the feeling of His Heavenly
Father's presence, He lifted His eyes again to the heavens.
But the scorched sky stared back at Him. Empty! Empty! Oh, how
much longer could He tolerate this torture, this feeling of
aloneness, this desperate desertion? The torture went on.
Jesus fasted and prayed, prayed and fasted, despite the
discomfort of His body and anguish of His soul. He prayed,
knowing that the biggest test was yet to come. His archenemy,
Satan, the one whose laughter and evil presence never left
Him, was waiting in the wings to bombard Him with His wiles.
Jesus was weak in body, but strong in Spirit. HE WOULD NOT
FAIL. HE WOULD NOT FAIL.
Forty days had passed and Satan came out of the shadows. He
stood before Jesus. He had Him just where he wanted Him. He
was weak in body, vulnerable for temptation. No food was in
sight, no relief. God, His Father, had not shown His presence.
It was time to give Jesus the decisive test. It was time to
make Him fail of His mission. Satan would gain victory over
his Enemy. He sneered in the face of God's Son.
"Ha! So You call Yourself the Son of God!" Satan stood
inches from Jesus, staring Him in the face. "Well, if that is
so, prove it. You are hungry. Why should You be? See those
stones? Make them bread? Eat to Your heart's content." Satan
spit on the ground, defying God.
Calmly Jesus replied: "It is written,
'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that
proceeds from the mouth of God'" Jesus turned His
head away, continually praying to His Father in Heaven for
strength. HE WOULD NOT FAIL. HE WOULD NOT FAIL.
Seeing that he had not won the first test, Satan said to
Jesus, "Well, now, it's one thing to be hungry. Hunger passes.
But come with me. I want to show you something. He led Him up
to a high mountain. "Look at this," Satan began. "See all
those kingdoms down there? With my supernatural power I can
project all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
Well, I am now offering You the best offer I have. Power! You
can have authority over all these kingdoms. I can turn over
the power to whomever I want, and right at this moment, I am
offering them to YOU. What better offer can You have? Your
Father seemingly has forsaken You. Evidently You have lost
Your own supernatural powers. If You hadn't, You could have
made yourself a meal down there in the desert. So now, give up
Your mission of trying to save wicked mankind. They won't
appreciate it anyway. They belong to me. And so do all these
kingdoms. So here You are. All You have to do is worship me,
pay allegiance to me.
"Get behind Me, Satan! For it is
written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only
you shall serve.'" Jesus stepped back from Satan,
looking once again to His Father in Heaven. HE WOULD NOT FAIL.
HE WOULD NOT FAIL.
Satan was becoming exasperated. How could anyone turn down
this great offer of owning all the kingdoms in the world, even
if they weren't really his to give? Well, he would try once
again to throw Jesus off the track. He turned to Jesus and
said, "Okay, I have somewhere else to take You. Come with me."
He led Jesus to Jerusalem, taking Him up to the peak of the
temple. And he said to Him, "So now, here You are, right at
Your own temple, the place where people come to worship God.
Here is a chance to prove to the city—to the world—that You
are the Son of God. Throw Yourself down, for it is written:
'He shall give His angels charge over
You.' You see? I know the Scriptures. Here is
another one: 'In their hands they shall
bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a
Somehow feeling stronger in spirit now, Jesus looked Satan
in the eye and said, "It has been said,
'You shall not tempt the Lord your God. " HE WOULD
NOT FAIL. HE WOULD NOT FAIL.
And Jesus DID NOT FAIL.
"You may have passed these
tests," sneered Satan, "but wait until the ultimate test, the
one both You and I know is coming. Then we shall see who has
the power. You just wait and see."
Without saying another word Satan left Jesus' side, but he
would be back! Oh yes, he would be back! He would save further
testing until later. He had not given up yet. He knew that
soon Jesus would have to face the worst days of His earthly
life. And Satan would be there, waiting again in the wings for
his opportunity to make Jesus fail in His mission to save
mankind from sin. He had been waiting since the beginning of
time for an opportunity to crush God's plan of salvation. And
he could not forget God's promise to Adam and Eve in the
Garden of Eden: Genesis 3:15 – "And I will
put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed
and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise
Exhausted, Jesus dropped to the earth and closed His eyes.
When He opened them, He was again in the wilderness, but
everything was different. Instead of Satan staring Him in the
face, laughing at him with his eerie, yapping laugh, a
beautiful, white angel stood before Him. He was lifting a
glass of cool water to Jesus' lips. He was feeding Him
Immediately Jesus' strength was renewed. He once again felt
the presence of His Heavenly Father. HE DID NOT FAIL. HE DID
NOT FAIL. It was time for Him to begin His earthly ministry.
It was time to show mankind His never failing love. It was
time for Him to walk among the people, for whom He came to
earth to save.
He headed back to Galilee.
1:29 – "The next day John saw Jesus coming
toward him, and said, 'Behold the Lamb of God who takes away
the sin of the world!'"
© Helen Dowd
with Study 3