The Desert Experience of Jesus
We begin Lent each year reading one of the versions of the Temptations of Jesus in the Desert. This year of course it is Luke’s account.
“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit through the wilderness, having been tempted by the devil there for forty days”.
Jesus is filled with the Spirit. This is something God does. Jesus of course is Son of God. Jesus is part of Creation. Jesus was filled with the Spirit in his mother’s womb. This is a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit and it has consequences.
He is led by the Spirit into the wilderness. This again is God’s doing. The Spirit of God leads Jesus into the desert. This is an important Biblical concept. It reminds us of the desert experience of the Chosen people. For forty years they journeyed through this strange land. They learnt to depend on God. It was God who provided the water and the food and the protection. They learnt to lean on God for everything. The desert is a good place to be. It is better than Pharaoh. It is not as good as the promised land. But it is safe and secure for the moment and God will bring us to the other side.
This Jesus was to learn in the forty days.
Also the Scripture is clear that the Spirit of God is leading Jesus to be tempted by the devil. Mark uses the word that the Spirit is driving Jesus to this end. All this is God’s plan.
This is also our experience. It is God who fills us with his Spirit, not just once but many times in our lives. But life in the Spirit is always followed by a desert experience where we learn how to depend on God for everything in our lives. This learning experience leads to a struggle with the evil one. Not only does God allow this, but He actually leads us into this. Like Jesus we will come out the other side with the “power of the Spirit in us”.
The key to conflict with the evil one is a good use of the Holy Scripture.