Jesus was still dripping wet from baptism when the Spirit alighted and the Father spoke (Luke 4:1 says He filled Him).
Behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (Matt. 3:17-4:1)
Now why would the Spirit lead Him into a harsh wilderness to be tested by the Tester?1 At first glance it seems a strange thing for a Father to do to His beloved Son. When God lays a foundation in our lives in the form of a miraculous sign or a word of promise or prophecy the idea is for us to respond with faith. However, faith must be durable enough to carry us to the fulfillment of God’s plans. Tests do more than prove faith, they strengthen it too. Tested faith is the basis for action and further faith.
Jesus faced tests from three angles. Two were directed straight at His Sonship. “If you are the Son of God” use your power to feed yourself. It was a test of His identity. Second, prove that the Father cares for you, His Son, by jumping off a high building. Satan suggested a kind of magic thinking about a Scripture promise. The third was an attempt to divert Jesus. It was the offer of a shortcut to authority and glory but in the world’s way, not God’s way. It tested Jesus’ sonship differently.
Two things to learn:
The object and foundations of our faith should not be tested except by walking in the light of them—life brings its own tests. Jesus did not need to prove His sonship and He told Satan that God must not be tested. Jesus was secure in the truth of His relationship with the Father—ready to live it out. May we grow in assurance of our identity too.
The essence of Sonship is to be filled and led by the Spirit of the Father into a business partnership with the Father. There are no shortcuts to His purposes, and the world’s glory is worthless. The Spirit led and empowered Jesus (Luke 4:14) while He learned obedience through the things that He suffered. Suffering measured the value Jesus put on obedience to the Father, the price He was willing to pay (Phil. 2:8; Heb. 5:8). He paid top dollar. Numerous junctions on life’s path offer us the choice to live as a child who pleases the Father, or not. The Tester suggests an easier route to a nicer destination at each one. This third test is ongoing.
- “Tempter” (Matt. 4:3) is an unhelpful translation, all the words for testing or tempting in this passage and the parallels are from peirasmos. [↩]