The Scripture prioritizes Jesus being led by the Holy Spirit into his forty days and nights of fasting and prayer. One’s imagination can concoct myriad possibilities of all Jesus experienced in these forty days. Today’s lent reflection avoids the need to read into the passage our conjecture and simply give consideration to “being led by the Holy Spirit.”
Luke seems to especially highlight the intertwined ministry of Jesus, the Spirit and the Father. For him, the Three are distinct and corporate at all times.
Brower, in “Holiness in the Gospels, page 59, writes:
“According to Luke…Jesus is conceived by the power of the Spirit, commissioned by the Spirit, led by the Spirit, anointed by the Spirit, full of the Holy Spirit, and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. His entire ministry is conducted in the Spirit.”
Matthew 6 is the apex of Lenten Bible consideration. Private prayer, fasting and almsgiving are “acts of the righteous life.” Everyone I know and the work of God in the world will all be significantly enhanced through increased and more pure righteousness.
Jesus, in my understanding, practiced all three of these righteous acts regularly throughout His life. Fasting, prayer and almsgiving were part and parcel of His life and ministry.
The Biblical writers want us to see that this fasting and prayer adventure was a bit unique from all the others. This one was by special leading of the Holy Spirit and it was into a brutal time of testing.
There are at least two types of temptation in the New Testament. Most commonly, temptation is an enticement from within. An evil desire to serve oneself what God has not chosen for you. James says something like, “when we are enticed by our own evil desires.”
Jesus, the perfect, sinless and spotless Son of God, is not led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit (nor are we) to be enticed to sin.
A second brand of temptation is external in nature. The enemy of Christ and Christians urges one to abandon the internal commitment to God, His will and His purity.
Yes, Jesus was tempted externally by Satan. No, Jesus wasn’t tempted internally to sin. The thought never crossed our Lord’s mind, “Maybe I should do one of the three concepts Satan is presenting to me today.”
Our life trajectory will take us to spaces where we are urged to abandon our commitment to God’s word, ways and calling. This is not a worry or to be feared.
The same Holy Spirit that led us into this external testing is the one Who keeps us, strengthens us, empowers us and walks us victoriously out the other side.