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TRUST: Doing Battle in the Wilderness

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In this series we have talked about the fact that sometimes our obedience takes us straight into situations that are painful, that require waiting, and that not only grow us on the inside but further God’s plans on the outside. Last week we ended with the idea that the training is in the waiting, and that’s where we’re going to pick up this week.

Last week we briefly mentioned Jesus’ season of waiting in the wilderness. Jesus’ wilderness season is unique in that the Bible gives us details of the spiritual battle which took place there. This is where we’re going to focus our attention today - the spiritual battles in the wilderness!

We can’t accurately discuss Jesus’ time in the wilderness without understanding what happened before it. Let's look at all three accounts in the Gospels to see why:

Matthew 4:1

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.

Mark 1:12

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

Luke 4:1

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness

We see the words “then,” “immediately,” and “returned from the Jordan” to describe the timeline in which the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. So what happened before? What happened at the Jordan?

Just before Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness, He experienced what some call his inauguration into public ministry. He went public! Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, and the Bible says the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus like a dove, and God spoke from Heaven confirming the identity of His Son saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)

This was not only a spiritually high moment, it was a spiritually paramount moment. All three persons of the Godhead showed up in some form at the same time together on earth! After such an experience, we might imagine the Holy Spirit would lead Jesus immediately to start His ministry. But that’s not what happened. Instead, the Holy Spirit led Jesus immediately into the wilderness. So the path of Jesus’ obedience led Him into the wilderness!

We glanced at Matthew 4:1 and Luke 4:1 above. Now let’s pull in verse 2 of both of these passages because there’s something important we find out in verse 2:

Matthew 4:1-2

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

Luke 4:1-2a

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.

These verses tell us one more important detail of the story - Jesus fasted. Even though Jesus went into this wilderness season being full of the Holy Spirit, He was determined to use the time to His advantage by growing spiritually stronger through fasting. Oh how we should take note of that!