Then Jesus Was Led By The Spirit Into The Wilderness To Be Tempted By The Devil.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
We have a wonderful faith, for our faith is in the One who spoke everything into existence, and who allowed Himself to be hung from a cross for our sins. Jesus, the perfect, sinless lamb of God, was sacrificed for our sins, and is our great High Priest of the order of Melchizedek. Unable to be our high priest through the lineage of Levi (and therefore Aaron), Jesus traces his ancestry from both mother and step-father to David of the line of Judah, where He claims the title “Lion of Judah“. By Levitical law, Jesus could not have been our high priest by law – He didn’t qualify. Instead, He became our high priest through an oath by God, becoming our eternal high priest, without beginning or end, just as Melchizedek, who was a type and shadow of Christ.
We know that Jesus suffered for us, and bore our sins on the cross. But He did more than that. He was tried and tested just as we are. For although God cannot be tempted, because God is perfect, Jesus put on flesh to become like one of us, and therefore, He could be tempted (for although there is no sin in Him, He had a physical body that would be subject to the pain, suffering, and trials that we endure)…
What was the first thing that God did after Jesus began His earthly ministry (through the dedication of baptism)? He was sent out into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to be tempted/tested. Before any of us enters ministry, we too must be tried and tested to prepare us for what is ahead. This is a pattern seen throughout the Bible:
- Joseph, son of Jacob, was tried and tested for 17 years in the affliction of slavery and incarceration for crimes he did not commit
- Moses was tried and tested for 40 years in the time-honored profession of animal husbandry – shepherding – before God would use him to rescue His people from Pharaoh
- David, another shepherd, having poured oil over his head by Samuel to be declared the next king of Israel, suffered as an outcast from his homeland and hunted down by the elite special forces of his day for more many years because of the jealousy of Saul
In the same way, Jesus was tried and tested in the same way that we are:
- The lust of the eyes – Matthew 4:8-10
- The lust of the flesh – Matthew 4:2-4
- The pride of life – Matthew 4:5-7
Jesus also was tested in the Garden of Gethsemane where He sweat blood when His physical body was reacting to what He knew was coming – the cross. Three times Jesus asked God to remove the cup He was about to drink, and three times He submitted to the perfect will of God. No one can say that Jesus doesn’t understand the difficulties we face. He put on flesh, and suffered as we have suffered.
And in that, Jesus was perfectly suited to be our high priest, for the high priest had to be able to have compassion on the ones that He would offering sacrifices. Without compassion, there cannot be grace. And Jesus, being God, has both compassion and grace as well as firsthand knowledge of what it is like to walk the Earth with flesh.
The Bible says that God’s mercies renew every morning. And that is good news for us, for we are constantly in need of God’s mercy. Jesus is able to sympathize with us for He has shared in our pain and suffering, and knows what it is like to live through our trials. Many have claimed that God, being perfect and spirit, cannot possibly fathom what we go through every day. God had foreseen that, and provided Jesus an Earthly body, in part, to ensure that we can make no such claim.
As we ponder our difficulties, and struggle in our trials, let us remember that Jesus, our perfect and eternal high priest, suffered as we have, and is able to sit at the right hand of God, praying for us in our afflictions, for mercy and grace. For He and He alone is perfectly able to understand our travails and come alongside us in our difficulties, having been there Himself.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I remembering that Jesus suffered as I have when I am going through trials?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You are perfect in every way, and have provided the perfect sacrifice for my sins in Your Son, Jesus Christ. He became flesh as one of us, perfectly able to sympathize with me as I suffer through the trials of this life. Help me, Father, to remember that Jesus can indeed know what it is like to suffer in these bodies. Help me to take courage and strength, knowing that He is at Your right hand, praying for each of us. Help me to remember that neither Jesus nor You have ever lost anyone that was Yours. Give me strength and comfort as I go throughout this day for the darkness of these times are threatening to overwhelm me. Amen.