Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.
Deuteronomy 8:2 (NRSV)
As we have seen, the backdrop to the testing of Jesus in the wilderness is the story of Israel, the Exodus community. In Deuteronomy, we learn that those forty years spent in the wilderness were intended to humble Israel and to test what was in their heart.
When we observe Jesus’ time in the wilderness from this perspective, we see that God led Jesus into the wilderness by his Spirit in order to prove his faithfulness and obedience; to confirm that he was ready to undertake his public ministry as the anointed Messiah, authorised to act on God’s behalf.
Testing is part of Christian discipleship and we shouldn’t be surprised when testing comes. As we recognise such tests, we should journey through them knowing that Christ has gone before us and shows us how to approach them. The author of Hebrews says:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
We often associate testing with negative experiences. But when God tests, he does so for our own good, hoping that the one who is tested will pass.
As we continue through this Lenten wilderness, remember that Jesus has gone before us and shows us how to approach each test. Choose to embrace testing times, for they are given to us by God as an opportunity to deepen our faith and grow in character.
Jesus, you have gone before us and understand what it is like to be tested in the wilderness.
We ask for the wisdom and the strength that comes from your Spirit so that we may be faithful in all things.
About this Lenten series: Forty Words for Lent offers a short daily meditation based upon Christ’s wilderness experience.