“Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” -Matthew 4:1

Wait … WHAT!?

Yeah … you read that right! The Holy Spirit led Jesus into a devil trap … on purpose! I don’t know why I had not caught this before, but God opened my eyes to this little tidbit today and I’m so glad He did. Let me explain.

This weekend, my 8-year-old daughter has a jiu-jitsu tournament where several hundred other kids will be competing. For those of you who don’t know, jiu-jitsu is a Brazilian form of wrestling or grappling. When my pretty little princess, who loves all things pink and sparkly, first told me she wanted to roll around with a bunch of sweaty, smelly boys, I was hesitant, to say the least. No mom wants their little girl to have cauliflower ears … let’s be real. But, she showed me! She is FIERCE! She has a fire in her that I didn’t even know existed. I didn’t know it existed, until she was held to the flame.

Yesterday, in preparation for her tournament, her coach did something that nearly gave me a heart attack. He brought her into the middle of the jiu-jitsu mat and proceeded to have every single kid in there try and beat her. I felt like I was in a scene from the movie “Fight Club.” Some of these kids were twice her size! Big burly, stinky boys going up against my little girl! But her coach didn’t lead her into the ring to hurt her or to terrify her poor mother, he led her there to PREPARE her for what was to come. He led her there to expose her weaknesses so that she would be ready when the real fight was at hand.

I believe that was what the Holy Spirit was doing to Jesus when He led Him to the desert to be tempted by the devil. Please hear me, the Holy Spirit did NOT tempt Jesus. God never tempts people to sin (James 1:13), BUT the Holy Spirit DID lead Jesus into the desert for the expressed purpose of being tempted.

WHY in the world would God allow that? The answer: LOVE. A loving father doesn’t send his child into a war without a weapon and the skill to use it, just like my daughter’s coach wouldn’t send my daughter into her jiu-jitsu tournament without the skills she needs to overcome.

God knew what Jesus would face in His ministry and in His death. God knew Jesus would be tempted to succumb to the approval and praise of man when they wanted to make Him king (John 6:15). God knew Jesus would be tempted to give up when He faced death on a cross (Luke 22:42). You see, the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert that day, not to hurt Him, but to PREPARE Him.

When you are in a desert, don’t despair, prepare. 

What desert are YOU facing today? How are you being tempted? Is it your marriage, an unfulfilled longing for a child, a broken relationship with a family member or friend, a battle with illness, addiction or depression? Don’t despair, prepare. God will use this season to prepare you for what He has in store for you … if you let Him! Remember, it is in our weakness that He is made strong (2 Corinthians 12:8-10).

One of the things Jesus did when He fought the devil’s temptations in that desert, was to fight Satan’s lies with God’s truth. Jesus used actual Scripture to destroy the enemy (Matthew 4). That can be your best weapon too!

If you are in a desert:

  • Arm yourself with God’s Word: Find verses that you can memorize and cling to that speak life into your current situation.
  • Devote yourself to prayer: Ask God to show you what He wants you to learn in this season and the sins you might need to surrender to Him. Lean into, and obey what He is telling you so you don’t have to stay in the desert longer than necessary.
  • DON’T BE AN ISLAND: Surround yourself with godly friends who can walk through the desert with you!

Whatever you do, don’t try and go through your desert without God. The Israelites tried that, and they ended up in the desert for 40 years, when the trip should have only taken a couple weeks. The Israelites missed out on the Promise Land because they refused to cling to God in the desert. Don’t get so stuck in your desert that you miss out on the Promise Land God has waiting for you on the other side.

When Jesus came out of the desert where He was tempted, the Bible said that angels came and attended Him. The Holy Spirit was with Jesus in the desert and His angels were waiting for Jesus when He came out. If you are feeling defeated by your desert, hold onto the knowledge and hope that God hasn’t given you this desert to defeat you, but to prepare you.


* UPDATE my daughter totally ROCKED it and beat a bunch of big burly boys one after another and won both of her competition tournaments … she was prepared!


Stephanie Parker



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