I need to talk through Matthew 4 with You Jesus. I can read what it says. It’s what it doesn’t say that stirs up questions; especially when I read it from the The Passion Translation.
4:1“Afterward, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the lonely wilderness in order to reveal his strength against the accuser…”
It isn’t as though a crowd has followed You into that stifling desert. Who did You want to receive this revelation? Who are the possible recipients? (1)Yourself ~ How would You know what You are capable of withstanding? In theory, You are aware of all that a sinless human should be able to endure. Yet You have never experienced temptation at this level before; (2) The demonic and spiritual realm ~ It appears Satan sees this as his greatest opportunity to rise above You; (3) Those who find out about this experience at a later time and it becomes an inspiration to them.
I’m intrigued by the notion that Satan could see the potential of this: Here You are, voluntarily vulnerable, “depleted” of all human strength (albeit a sinless human). Your reserves seem gone. There’s logic in trying to throw everything at You while Your guard is down. “He’s vulnerable. Hit him now with everything.” ~ Interestingly he does not attempt to coerce You to do anything? He seems to have an awareness of the danger in attempting to impose something upon You. Yet he has no reservations of approaching You and in a seducing way, appeal to all Your vulnerabilities without stepping over the line of no return. He keeps at it until You force his hand and he has to leave and regroup. ~ Are these the ones You were revealing Your strength to?
Yet when scripture describes You as fully human, it would necessitate You also being fully vulnerable to the most alluring choices; the easiest choice; the most self-honouring choice, especially given the circumstance of being in need of everything. If this experience occurred in order to reveal Your strength, it is a real possibility that You were not yet aware of the strength of the bond You shared within the Godhead. How could You have known before this? It would have to be, to a degree, theory for You. If You have never experienced the vulnerability of separation, how would You know what strength would be available?
So maybe the scenario looked more like a companion walking with You into a new phase that You realized was coming, but did not fully understand. Holy Spirit came alongside, took Your arm and supportively said, “Come with me. We’re going to step into it now.” He came alongside You and led You into that desolate place where a person could die and never be found. And he stayed with You through those forty days. ~ That is a true companion; a true friend ~ A source of strength, encouragement, inspiration and grounding. “We’ll go through this together.” Did You need this experience in order to prepare You for Gethsemane?”
I’ve had friends sit with me in times of sorrow. It wasn’t their words I needed. It was their presence. They comforted me by being there. ~ Were You aware of Holy Spirit with You when Satan was speaking declarations of freedom and influence? Is there any reason why I should think that You were not aware of his companionship?
My mind’s eye sees him sitting off to one side. You know he is there for You but he doesn’t offer You his arm. He doesn’t get up and stand between You and Your adversary. It’s as though he is affirming You by his non-intervention. His inaction speaks words of confidence building: “You can do this. You know where Your strength lies. You know who You are. You don’t need what he’s offering. You know he is feeding you lies.”
With each temptation past, did You gain a deeper insight into Your capabilities in a human shell? Was Your strength being revealed to You?
Whether this experience was an eternal declaration to the realms of heaven, or a personal quest, the fact remains, You did it and it speaks volumes to us who follow. Voices always lure me to compare my lot in life with those who have more. The temptation of a poverty mindset; or that of a victim, dog at my heals.
When compared to You, my first inclination is towards shame blended with guilt. Words echo over the years of weakness in character, bent towards betrayal. I failed to comprehend that those accusations are simply another attempt by a demonic world to take my eyes off my identity. I am not a sum total of my actions. Those are but symptoms of my heart’s condition. They do not change who I am and the birthright I was bestowed. I am the image bearer of the Invisible God; the Creator; the Sustainer of Heaven and Earth. Shame is a declaration of character deficiency and value. Guilt is a response to an action or attitude that does not align with truth. Guilt can be a healthy response. Shame is never a byproduct from the voice of Holy Spirit.
So Your forty days has had a ripple effect through time. Were You aware then of the implications to follow? For me it doesn’t matter. The fact remains that choosing to deny Yourself for forty days has produced a profound declaration throughout both physical and spiritual domains.