For forty days Jesus was tempted in the desert. We typically don’t think about the reality that he was tempted for forty days. We usually just read the narrative and consider the three specific temptations that are listed there:
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him,“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”
And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
This next bit is even more interesting:
And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee, and a report about him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all.
Jesus ends his time in the time in the desert and is filled with the power of Holy Spirit and jumped into ministry. If you’re like me, you’re Western, American, and Christian. For many of us we think that these times in the desert are not normal or are bad. We cry out, “why God!?” We ask what we are doing wrong to have to experience the desert.
We don’t expect things to be hard. American Evangelicalism has sold us a bill of goods that says, “If you follow Jesus your life will be better.” That bill of goods is false.
If we follow Jesus we will follow him into the desert. We will face the pain of temptation. It will hurt and it won’t feel good. But, it is real.
When we come out the other side we are ready to enter into the work that God has prepared for us to do. The desert is a time of preparation for the next great journey that God has for us to go on.
Are you in the desert? Then get ready, because God is about to use you. Find joy in the desert in the knowledge that God is about to do something spectacular through you. It might not be spectacular in the way we think “spectacular” is supposed to look. It might be done with no fanfare or recognition. But, the desert has purpose and its purpose is preparation.