Matthew Chapter three ends with a remarkable moment of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. God revealed His Son to John the Baptist and for the first time in his ministry, John was able to see the Spirit of God descending on Jesus like a dove. Throughout his ministry, he asked people to repent, for the kingdom had come near but was never able to witness the kingdom in the vicinity while baptizing the common people. Probably, this would not have been seen or heard by others who were watching this. Earlier, John the Baptist was briefed by God about the descending of the Spirit of God to confirm what he was preaching.
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”John 1:32-34
Salvation is Personal
Receiving Holy Spirit in our lives is a personal experience and it cannot be seen by others. Without understanding this silent work of God in our lives, people long to witness the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and wait their entire lives for it. In this pursuit, we miss out on what is happening once we are filled with the Spirit of God. The Spirit leads us to the wilderness taking us away from the sweet fellowship of our fellow believers. At this juncture, we do not yield to the will of God but stick to the sweet fellowship of brothers and sisters. We are interested in proving to each other that we are the children of God.
Life at Wilderness
As soon as Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God led Him to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. The primary temptations are that the devil wants us to prove to him that we are the children of God. This precious relationship is personal between us and our God. Repeatedly the devil asked Jesus to prove His relationship with His Father, but Jesus firmly denied. Unfortunately, as we are not clear about our relationship with our God, we succumb to the devil’s trick and unknowingly we obey him instead of obeying our Father in heaven.
God places every child of Him in a vulnerable situation with a trust that His children will resist the devil and he will flee from them. On the contrary, we are often taught by our elders to flee away from the vulnerable situation instead of overcoming evil with good. How far will we be able to fly away from vulnerability while God Himself is exposing us to it. We flee from undesirable situations because we do not have confidence either in God or in us. Somehow we are entangled and succumb to situations rather than overcoming them.
Jesus was Hungry
After finishing forty days of fasting Jesus was hungry. Taking the situation in His hands, the devil asked Jesus to turn the stones into bread to fill His stomach. Word of God is not merely for filling our desires but it is life to our soul. In response to the devil’s request Jesus quoted,
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”Matthew 4:4
On the contrary, on two occasions, He multiplied the bread and fish and fed a huge crowd. Jesus acts on His Father’s will and He does not act upon the devil’s misguidance. How many times have we been misguided by the devil while taking crucial decisions. He uses the word of God to misdirect us but regular reading of the word of God can help us to identify the difference between the Spirit-filled Living Word and the deceitful empty words of the devil. Hunger denotes the urgent need for food for oneself. At the same time, it also denotes other lustful desires arousing in our flesh. Are we using the word of God to fulfill our agendas or are we using it to build His Kingdom?
Devil needs Performances
As Jesus quoted the Word of God, the devil too quoted verses from Psalm 91:11-12 and asked Jesus to act upon that Word. Jesus firmly rejected him, saying that the promise of God is not to test Him but to apply it against the challenges one faces during fulfilling God’s will in total obedience. Most of the time devil prompts us to create hassles in our lives and then instruct us to apply the Word of God to it. We often do not sense or obey the leading of God and as a result, we lose His directions totally and create havoc in ours as well as in other’s lives. Then superficially we act upon the Word of God that advises us to go to the elders of the church. Initially, we had lost His direction and later we apply the Word in the way the devil prompts us.
Devil prompts us to give publicity to our ministry and asks us to do the ministry with glamour. When the Power of God accomplishes its purpose, who are we to claim name for us and to our organizations? People capture the scenes where the power of God is manifested greatly and use it to earn fame and money.
Devil Lures People to Worship Him
As the whole world is in the hands of the evil one, the devil always lures people to worship him to obtain material blessings. Devil was daringly extending this offer to the Creator of all things. Jesus firmly refused to worship him and he left Him immediately and went away. The best way to drive away the devil is to worship the Lord with all our mind, hearts and soul.
We may not be worshiping the devil directly but there are many ways we worship him indirectly. Jesus was placed at the pinnacle of the temple to have a glimpse of the world. We are exposed to the glamour of this world in our daily walks of life. While we see the prosperity of the wicked people, we are tempted to doubt our clean life. When we think like the Psalmist thought, inadvertently, we express our desire for unlawful wealth.
This is what the wicked are like—always free of care, they go on amassing wealth. Surely in vain I have kept my heart purePsalms 73:12-13
and have washed my hands in innocence.
Resisting the Devil
Jesus overcame the temptations and the devil immediately fled from His presence. Angels came and attended Him. We need not flee from the vulnerable situation which may lead us to sin, but we have to remain in that vulnerable situation and learn to hate evil. The leaves of lotus plants have super-hydrophobic surfaces. The leaves remain clean despite the water and mud on which they rest as water refuses to stick to the leaves of the lotus plant.
Only when we fear God and love Him with all our heart, the devil can not stand in our way. God wants us to make us sin-proof by shielding us with His love. In the same way He wants us to love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul so that sin refuses to enter into us.