Happy New Year all!
I suppose there’s no better way to start the year then remembering who we are to follow heading into the New Year. It’s the person whom Jesus followed while he walked this earth, and you see it clearly in these passages.
It’s one of the most famous passages in scripture where Jesus gets tempted in the desert. But as I read it this time, and looked at the scripture that Jesus quoted in fighting the temptations thrown at him by Satan, one thing struck me: Just how much trust he put in his Father.
Filled with and led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus went out into the desert after his baptism, and stayed out there for 40 days. It seems only fitting, then, that the scriptures he quoted came from Deuteronomy after the Israelites had been wandering around in the desert for 40 years. Because what Moses told the Israelites right after that, Jesus lived out in his life.
What did Moses say?
Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)
Just as the Father led the Israelites through the desert to test them, so he led Jesus out into the desert to be tested. Like the Israelites, Jesus was humbled, being caused to become hungry.
But unlike the Israelites, he refused to complain against his Father during that time. Rather, he trusted that his Father would provide what he needed, when he needed it.
Satan tried to get Jesus to rely on himself and his own powers to meet his needs by turning stones into bread. But Jesus refused, and relied solely on his Father in heaven to provide what he needed.
When Satan tempted Jesus to throw himself down from the temple and let the angels catch him, even quoting scripture to do so (which shows how important it is to understand context when we’re reading scripture), Jesus pointed to Deuteronomy 6, where Moses told the people,
Do not test the LORD your God as you did at Massah. (Deuteronomy 6:16)
What happened at Massah? The Israelites again showed a lack of trust in God, this time because they had no water, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)
Sometimes, we question God in the same way. We go through struggles, and say, “Is God really with me or not?”
Satan was basically tempting Jesus to question God in that way too. He was saying, “Is your Father really with you? If you’re going to serve him, you’d better find out by jumping off the temple. If he’s really with you, he’ll catch you.”
But Jesus refused to do so, fully believing that his Father was with him, though he couldn’t see him.
Finally, Satan tempted Jesus to worship him in order to gain the kingdoms of the world. But again Jesus refused. He would not let anything or anyone deter him from following his Father saying,
Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ (Matthew 4:10)
How about you? Who are you following as you head into this new year? Are you following the Father? Are you trusting that he is with you and will meet your needs? Are you making following him your first priority, above your job, your family, your friends, and everything else?
Who are you following?