Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13)
About 2,000 years ago, a boy John was born. As growing up, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. He came out to the Judean wilderness and began preaching. His message was, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” The prophet Isaiah was speaking about John when he said,
“He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming!
Clear the road for him!’” (Matthew 3:3b, Isaiah 40:3)
People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. Therefore, he was called “John the Baptist.”
One day, Jesus, who was born of virgin Mary six month later than John the Baptist, went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” John the Baptist knew who Jesus was. It was the first encounter between John the Baptist and Jesus.
When John the Baptist was his own mother’s womb, Mary, who had just conceived Jesus by Holy Spirit, visited Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Mary greeted Elizabeth. At the sound of Mary’s greeting, Elizabeth’s child leaped within her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.” Then Mary responded with the Magnificat: Mary’s Song of Praise. Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home. Now, Jesus came to John the Baptist to be baptized to fulfill God’s will.
However, John the Baptist rejection Jesus’ request. Jesus insisted, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John the Baptist agreed to baptize Jesus.
After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on Him. And a voice from heaven said,
“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17b)
What’s gloriously blessed scene it was! John the Baptist saw the glory of God, and he was truly rejoiced because he saw the blessed scene. How blessed we were if we were there with John the Baptist! In reality, we will surely see a much mor glorious scene because God prepared for all who are faithful in Him as written in the book of Revelation:
And from the throne came a voice that said,
“Praise our God,
all his servants,
all who fear him,
from the least to the greatest.”
Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:
“Praise the LORD!
For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.
Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.
She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.”
For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.
And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.” (Revelation 19:5-9)
Yes, we, who are believing Jesus as our Savior, will be at the wedding feast of the Lamb, and we will see and experience the glorious scene. It will not be just one point of time, but forever with God, Our Ever-Loving God!
As Jesus was emerging from the water, God, the Father, was pleased with Jesus, the Son of God. The heavens were opened, the Spirit of God descended like a dove and settled on Jesus. Then God told
“This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” (Matthew 3:17b)
Yes, the Father God was truly pleased with Jesus. His Son was about to start His ministry on earth to save all believers. God poured out His Love on Jesus in the form of dove descending from the heavens. Jesus’ mission on earth was so critical for God’s salvation plan promised with Adam and Eve after their fall. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice to forgive all sins of all. It was the love of God that was manifested at the scene as Jesus was emerging from the water after the baptism.
On the other hand, it was the moment that the biggest fear of Satan fell on him. Before Jesus, the Satan took hostage of the entire humanity under the bondage of sins so that all humanity be perished together with the Satan at the end time. Jesus’ ministry was to shatter the Satan’s plan. The Satan decided fiercely attacking Jesus.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, i.e., the Satan. Jesus now had to face with the power of the darkness in a form of temptations, which successfully lured to fall the first man and the first woman, Adam and Eve. The Satan was victorious over Adam and Eve, because they powerlessly gave in to the Satan’s temptation. In reality, even before the temptation came, Adam and Eve was already sold to their heart of desire. What was needed to them was a small nudge from outside. The Satan knew this, and the Satan came to Eve as a serpent. Eve heard the deliciously tempting voice of the serpent. The serpent’s voice immediately went into deep in the Eve’s heart, because it was actually what Eve wanted in her heart. This was starting to make distance to God, but Eve did not notice this. Then she used her own eyes and examined the forbidden fruit. As she saw the forbidden fruit, she even more desired of eating the forbidden fruit. She, then, heard one more lie from the serpent, which was the final punch to made her knock down – “you would be like God when you eat the forbidden fruit.” As soon as she heard this, she grabbed the forbidden fruit and ate it. Adam, her husband, ate too. When Eve gave the forbidden fruit, Adam did not make even one single question. Adam was also fully ready to eat because his heart was already sold to the forbidden fruit. Surely both were tempted, ate, and fall to a prey of the serpent. When they realized this, it was too late. They already became children of the darkness by sinning against God. Then they loved the darkness, and hid from God’s sight. By the way, can the darkness coexist with the light? No. Even a small candle light pushes away the darkness surrounding the small candle, and near the candle nobody can find darkness at all. Even a small candle overpowers darkness, no matter how dark the darkness is. This is the power of the light.
Even so, the Satan decided to use the same tactic that was hugely successful when used against the first man and the woman, Adam and Eve. The power of the darkness worked really well. Adam and Eve were in the paradise, but their heart desire bit the temptation like fish bit a tempting bate although it leads to the death of the fish. As soon as Adam and Eve bit the temptation, the Satan hurled them into the darkness.
The Satan always searched for an opportunity to reel in anyone even believers. For this time, the target was Jesus. The Satan patiently waited till Jesus became as weak as possible as a human being. In fact, for forty days and forty nights the Satan waited. Jesus continuously fasted, and Jesus was getting weaker and weaker. As the day of fasting approached the fortieth day, Jesus was completely exhausted. He had no strength to move his body. He just fell on the wilderness. For the Satan, the best opportunity came.
The devil (i.e., the Satan) came and tempted Jesus. The first strategy was to directly attack the basic human necessity – food. Jesus was physically starved to extreme. He was barely breathing. To Jesus, who had no food at all for the last forty days, the devil said,
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” (Matthew 4:3b)
If we were Jesus, what would be flashing in our eyes as the devil was talking? Yes, loaves of bread. Additionally, Jesus, as the Son of God, was fully capable of turning stones to loaves of bread. If we had the same capability of Jesus, what would we do? Could we resist the devil’s temptation after forty-days’ fasting? The temptation was unthinkable and nobody could resist. Upon hearing, Jesus slowly turned His head, and looked at the stones pointed by the devil. His human frailty quickly seized him like all of us. But Jesus turned back His head and looked directly at the devil. The devil could not believe what was happening. The devil knew nobody would resist such a strong temptation after forty-days of fasting. The devil knew that Jesus had the same frail physical body that we have.
Then Jesus reminded His holy mission. He came to this world to save us from all sins by being the perfect sacrificial lamb. Without Jesus, we would all perish. Jesus clearly knew this fact. Jesus recalled how Adam and Eve fell before the temptation. Then Jesus boldly and sternly told to the devil,
“No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
But by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4b)
It was the first encounter between Jesus and the devil. The scores were Jesus: 1 and devil: 0. The power of the physical temptation was at its max, but the love of Jesus Christ toward us was even bigger and stronger than the unthinkably strong physical temptation rooted in the extreme hunger. Let’s together again, give thanks to Jesus, who endured the devil’s temptation even under the extreme condition with His physical body’s frailty like us. Rather than hearing from His own frail body crying for bread, Jesus looked at the future of bringing His salvation to all believer and He was in joy instead. His love was greater than the extreme temptation under His own extreme hunger. Yes, Jesus prevailed. His victory was for us, and Jesus was in joy for all of us who believe Jesus as our one and only savior.
What can we learn from this first encounter between Jesus and devil? Devil’s first temptation is most likely something related to our own essential physical needs. How did Jesus resist and defeat this type of temptation? Jesus directly quoted God’s Word, and He defeated the temptation. Yes, God’s Word is the best weapon against devil when we tempted. The strong power comes from God’s Word. Except God’s Word, there is no other weapon given to us. This is the reason why we always read, memorize and digest God’s Word in our heart, while reciting with our own month.
But the devil did not stop. The devil came and took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to Him,
“If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’” (Matthew 4:6b)
Jesus was on the highest point of the temple where Jesus could see the entire Jerusalem, the holy city. They were lots of people in the city. And as Jesus stood at the highest point of the temple, all of the people looked up Jesus. The eyes of all of the people were fixed on Jesus. Instantly, Jesus became known to all in Jerusalem. Indeed, Jesus suddenly became a star. The people all wondered how Jesus went up there, and they all felt that Jesus was an extra ordinary man. Soon the devil tempted Jesus to jump off from the top of the temple while quoting God’s Word: God would send God’s angels and protect Jesus even before Jesus’ feet hitting a stone on ground. If Jesus actually performed this miracle, Jesus would immediately become the super star whom everyone loved and talked about. Yes, it was a trap set by the devil himself to tempt Jesus. The devil intentionally misquoted God’s Word to project the devil’s own agenda. How tricky it was as the devil quoted God’s Word!
Jesus said to the devil,
“Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:7b)
Jesus defeated the cunning scheme of the devil by God’s Word again. Jesus quoted the God’s Word in God’s way, not the way of the devil’s using of God’s Word to perpetuate his own desires to destroy Jesus. Have we ever tempted before God’s Word when our heart wants to quote God’s Word wrongly to justify our own needs? Using God’s Word to justify our own needs is surprisingly common among us. In this way, we disguise our own sinful desire as holy as possible because our sinful desire is wrapped with God’s Word. Yes, this is a terrible sin. How did Jesus respond against this terrible sin? Jesus used God’s Word to reveal the hidden sin by exposing the malicious intention of the devil behind the superficial façade decorated with God’s Word. Yes, we should and can defeat such sins using God’s Word.
The devil was defeated again. The devil became furious. The devil really wanted to destroy the most glorious and holy salvation plan of Jesus. Only a perfect man with no sin could be the perfect sacrifice. What the devil needed was make Jesus committee just one single sin, which would completely destroy the God’s most important and blessed salvation plan.
The devil took Jesus to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him,
“All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:9b)
Jesus came this world not to be served, but to serve by being the perfect sacrifice for all. Jesus, the Son of God, knew His death on cross. He would be whipped and tortured also. The devil tempted for Jesus to avoid the extreme suffering that would come to Jesus. Instead of being sacrificed on cross, the devil tempted Jesus that Jesus would be the king of all the people including those who would torture and crucify Him. Additionally, Jesus would rule over all the kingdoms on the earth and would receive their glory. What an offer! Only was the condition to get all these promises to worship the devil instead of God. Jesus had a choice – continued after his path to suffer and be crucified on cross or being the king over all the kingdoms on the earth while receiving all their glory. Of course, those who would torture and eventually kill Him on cross would serve Him as their king.
Upon hearing this temptation, Jesus said to the devil,
“Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’” (Matthew 4:10b)
Yes, Jesus immediately and sternly rejected the infinitely tempting offer of the devil. The offer was the maximum that the devil could do, but Jesus took his suffering and his death on cross instead. Why? Jesus loved us so much more than all earthly kingdoms and their glory combined. In fact, Jesus had one thing in His mind and His heart was in joy, while seeing our salvation in Him, by Him and through Him to come. Jesus’ death on the cross after whipping and torturing was the victorious moment of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. At the very moment, the Satan would be defeated forever as destined. The Satan started his plan of destruction when Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. The Satan’s plan was hugely successful by making Adam and Eve fall and become children of the darkness. However, God prepared His salvation plan by foretelling the war between Jesus and the Satan:
And I will cause hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15)
Yes, the Satan later killed Jesus Christ by crucifying on cross, but it was the moment that the power of the darkness of the Satan was utterly destroyed. All those who fell and became children of the darkness suddenly became children of God in the light. The beautiful relationship with God, the Ever-Loving Father was restored. We all believer have become His most beloved children in Him again forever. This is the Good News. Jesus Christ came to this world with only one purpose:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
Amen and Amen! The name of Jesus Christ be praised ever and ever. Jesus Christ is Our Savior whom we receive our eternal salvation and eternal life as God’s children forever.
The Satan, the first enemy of our first man and woman, Adam and Eve, could not stand still as soon as they saw Jesus Christ, the Savior as promised by God. Yes, Jesus came to fulfill the most glorious and holy salvation plan. As God foretold, the Satan attacked Jesus from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry on earth. The temptations brought by the devil signaled the beginning of the battle between Jesus and the Satan. The initial temptation of the Satan was not the last one.
And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time. (Luke 4:13)
The book of Luke clearly describes. The devil was defeated, and departed Jesus only until an opportune time. It was a temporary retreat of the devil. The devil was determined to do everything that it could destroy Jesus completely along with the blessed salvation plan. But Jesus endured the three temptations, and each of them was so tempting that no other person could resist.
Was it easy for Jesus to resist? No. He had a frail human body also. He was in an extreme hunger, but he endured. He was tempted by the reputation of the world, but he resisted. He could trade all of His suffering and His death on cross with the earthly glory, but he resisted. Why? He loved us more than all of these temptations and earthly glory combined. After all, Jesus gave His Own Self as the perfect sacrifice for all our sins. Give thanks to Jesus and His unfathomable love toward us!
Then what can we do as followers of Jesus? We have Jesus Christ, who endured all of the worldly desires and temptations. Yet, the world is full of temptations as Bible says:
For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. (1 John 2:16)
Therefore, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus Christ who suffered for us on cross. Daily we follow the footsteps of Jesus Christ especially in this Lent Season. May be God’s grace and peace on each of you in the name of Jesus Christ!
We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:2)