“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights…” (Matthew 4:1-2, NIV)
Have you ever thought about the question, “What did Jesus do or experience during those forty days and forty nights?” What we read in the Bible only mentions that He was hungry and He was tempted in every way. Does this interest you to find out? Surely it interests me, as I want to know my Lord who I love and understand what He went through. I also believe that the answer will strengthen me in many ways.
Before we get into what happened, I need you to know that this part is not written in the Bible directly. But, we can consider what possibly happened by visualizing ourselves in this wilderness, alone.
First, I want you to know that this happened two thousand years ago, and things were not like how we see them today. Second, I want you to understand what it means Biblically when it mentions “wilderness”. Through the experiences of the Israelites in exile, we learn that the wilderness was a place where there was no food or water (Exodus 16). It is a lonely place and a place of isolation (1 King 19). A place where you know nothing and where the emptiness could possible bring despair and fear, fear of danger (Genesis 21). And remember, Jesus was there not a week nor a month, but forty days and forty nights, alone.
Okay, now let’s think about the circumstances that Jesus was probably in. Hungry? Absolutely! Thirsty? No doubt He was. I am so confident to also say that, He had no roof over His head. He would have been wandering inch by inch just as His feet could take Him. He would have laid wherever His body could rest. Certainly, He probably passed out many times as a result of poor physical condition while under this trial. Loneliness, desperation, confusion, fear, maybe even illusions? Who could He turn to? Family? Friends? Co-workers? Strangers? There was not even one person He could find! Could He try to ignore the situation He was facing? Could He try to turn His focus and feel better? What could He rely on or hope for? Did He know that the trial would only last forty days and nights? Even if He knew, how could He survive for that long? A day must have seemed so long for Him, and He must froze laying on the ground each night with only sand and dirt under Him. The hard ground surely was not comfortable. And was it possible that He encountered snakes or scorpions, maybe spiders or even wild animals? Now, imagine that someone came and told Him that He could turn the whole situation around. This person reminded Him that He had the power to change the tide Himself and that He could eat whatever He wanted to, whenever He wanted to. He could go from this poor situation to having all the wealth of this world. What was Jesus’ choice?
My dear friends, are you experiencing hunger and thirst, either physically or spiritually? Are you worrying about losing your possessions or are you starving for more of this world? Are you feeling abandoned or do you find yourself in a very bad relationship? Maybe you are feeling hopeless, despair, afraid of what the future may hold, and you cannot stay there any longer? Maybe you have started looking around, trying to find or figure out a solution to the situation. It is right then that the tempter may come and offer you his way. Maybe he has already done so and you are considering it? If so, I want you to know, Jesus had someone who He could hold on to and seek hope from. He had someone who He knew loved Him, His Father in Heaven.
Let me tell you something else, the Biblical wilderness also means renewal, a place to encounter God (Exodus 3). Jesus is waiting for you to call on Him in your journey through the wilderness and to remember He who has no sin. He is the only one who knows how to show you the way out.