And the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan… (Mk. 1:12-13)
During the summer of 2015, my wife and I went to Israel. It was my first visit to the Holy Land. I saw, heard, and felt many things I’ll never forget.
One such place was the mountain where Satan tempted Jesus. It was perhaps the most stark, lonely, and desolate place I’ve ever been.
On that mountaintop, I thought and prayed about many things. What did Satan’s voice sound like? Was Jesus tempted to turn a few stones into some bread? Tempted to prove to Satan that He was God’s son? Tempted to walk away from His mission?
In that grim place, I looked at my own temptations. Those temptations I had already succumbed to caused great remorse. Those I resisted prompted much gratitude, but no self-congratulation. Those I’m now wrestling with elicited the resolve to remain strong.
After an hour of such reflections I was given great peace and comfort. I realized that there is no temptation we face Jesus didn’t face, no temptation He won’t help us to resist, and no temptation, if succumbed to, He can’t or won’t forgive. Jesus is Lord of so much, including Lord of the Temptations.
Sometimes we can be tempted to face our temptations alone. Please don’t. When we are hungry, lonely, hurt, lost, anxious, or ashamed, we are weak and vulnerable, and the voices of darkness become ever more persuasive. Lone Rangers in the spiritual life get lost and into trouble.
I find it very encouraging to think about Jesus at our side when we are tempted, giving us the strength to resist and remain strong. I hope you do as well.
- What are the particular temptations you are facing, listening to, looking at, or dreaming about right now? Do you want Jesus’ help to resist them? If so, have you asked Him? If not, why?
- Why would you attempt to resist your temptations alone? Are you tempted to think that Jesus doesn’t already know what they are?
- Have you ever been tempted to duck what you need to do, ever not speak out against things that are wrong, ever not commit to the causes that are important? If so, how do you think Jesus might be asking you to live moving forward?