This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased (Matthew 3:17).
The Lord's temptation in the desert provides
us an important lesson when our own life falls out of control. You remember what
happened in the Jordan. John baptized Jesus as the crowd
watched. Then the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove, rested on Jesus, and a voice
thundered from heaven: This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.
One might have thought, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
But in the next verse, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert.
For 40 days, nearly six weeks, the beloved Son of God, the One in whom the Father was “well pleased” endured severe trials. Alone. Hungry. Cold. Tired.
And then Satan showed up to add to His struggles.
The Temptation lesson is an important one, especially for us who endure our own loneliness, loss, hunger, and heartache. Although Satan will use those things to try to fool us into thinking God is angry with us, that God has forsaken us, or God is unaware of our struggles, yet it is those very struggles – severe as they may be – that give us a chance to imitate what Jesus did. With each lie, Jesus entrusted Himself to His Father whom He knew loved Him.
How did Jesus know He was beloved? He’d just heard it at His baptism. And He believed it.
Armed with that knowledge of the Father’s love, Jesus could wield Scripture like a razor-sharp sword against each sly demonic attempt to pull Him from the path leading to our redemption.
Jesus said, “It is written” (verse 4).
Jesus said, “It is written” (verse 7).
Jesus said, “It is written” (verse 10).
Many years after His resurrection, Jesus showed St. John a vision of the Church’s future, a future in which Christians would endure great suffering and death at the hands of Satan and his followers. Through the entire book of Revelation, but specifically in chapter 12, verse 11, St. John tells us Christians would overcome Satan, “by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and that they did not love their lives even when faced with death.”
How can that be? How can Christians withstand such an onslaught of evil? Because we know God loves us. How do we know that? We heard it at our baptism. We hear it in the words of Scripture each time we read it or hear it.
And we believe it.
Jesus was not led into the desert because the Father was angry with Him. God led Him there to model for us the behavior that will overcome Satan’s deceptions in the midst of our own deserts – to do as Jesus did: entrust ourselves to the Father who loves us, defend against Satan’s lies with God’s word . . . and wait patiently for the deliverance that will surely come on the wings of angels (Matthew 4:11).