Saturday, September 20, 2014


There is a painting that hangs in my office and in my study at home that symbolizes the temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness.  It is one of the few pieces of art I have ever purchased for myself.  I was so enamored of it that I bought two copies of the same painting to hang in the places where I spend a large majority of my time.

I think what so intrigued me about the painting is the sense of solitude and reflection that I see in it.  Christ is pictured sitting alone in the foreground of a backdrop where nothing else is present but desert and sky.  There are no other human beings, no animals, no plants.  Christ sits alone with His thoughts.  I always wonder "what is He thinking, did He know what He was about to face?"

In the final verses of Matthew Chapter 3 Christ has just been baptized by John the Baptist.  God's Spirit had descended upon Christ from the Heavens "as a dove descending and lighting upon Him".  God pronounced "This is my Son, in Him I am well pleased".  My sinless, blameless Son is here and I am announcing it to all who are present.

So in a supreme moment of revelation from God Christ is exalted.  And in the very next scene Christ is alone with Himself and His thoughts and immediately challenged by Satan.  As Matthew Chapter 4 opens Christ has left the River Jordan, the site of his Baptism, and entered the wilderness alone.  There He is confronted by Satan with a series of temptations in an attempt to lure Jesus into a situation where He would commit a sin.

Three times Jesus is tempted by Satan to sin against God and each time Jesus refuses, quoting Scriptures from the Old Testament to defend His actions and Himself from Satan.  Jesus knew the Scriptures well and He knew the power they have over temptation and sin.  Jesus was victorious over Satan in part because of His knowledge of and faithfulness to Scripture.

Isn't it often like that with us?  After a significant joyful event in our lives, such as a Baptism or marriage, doesn't it seem like almost immediately there are new found temptations all around us.  An invitation to a party we know we probably shouldn't attend or an inappropriate advance from an acquaintance.  The self confidence we feel during milestone events in our lives can sometimes serve as an intoxicant, numbing our senses to the danger of the temptations that are always present around us.

Satan loves those moments - they are moments of opportunity for him.  Satan relishes in attempting to destroy the most successful and obedient of God's children.  So when "life smiles on you" in a big way and success seems to be around every corner, temper your celebration somewhat with the knowledge that Satan may be among those in the crowd cheering you on.  Immerse yourself in prayer and Scripture to guard yourself from what may be "lurking in the wilderness".  And always remember, WE NEED GOD JUST AS MUCH IN THE GOOD TIMES AS IN THE BAD.