"And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, He saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him: and there came a voice from heaven, saying, ‘Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And immediately the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness. And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan…and the angels ministered unto Him."
Mark 1: 9-13, King James Version
"The Devil only tempts those souls that wish to abandon sin and those that are in a state of grace. The others belong to him; he has no need to tempt them."
Jean-Baptiste Marie Vianney
What temptation do I face in my life which causes me to feel discouraged and abandoned?
Have I asked my heavenly Father to minister to me for I need His help?
"A victorious Christian life is not a superior brand of Christianity reserved for the elite of the elect. It is the normal Christian life for every Christian."
"God wants us to be victors, not victims; to grow, not to grovel; to soar not sink; to overcome, not to be overwhelmed."
William A. Ward
If you looked closely at our text today from Mark 1: 9-13, you may wonder when we skipped from the Old Testament story of David and Bathsheba to the New Testament account of the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness after His baptism by John.
As it happens, to my surprise, and maybe yours, too - these two stories are closely connected. More so than I could ever have imagined when I began our studies on David and Bathsheba.
Day by day, as I have better understood from God's Word the temptations that confronted Uriah as he attempted to live a life of integrity and service to his king, I realized that played out, in your life and mine, are the same battles. And these challenges are often encountered in three specific ways:
1. The temptation to succumb to the desires of our appetites and passions.
2. The temptation to distrust our Father's love and will for our lives.
3. The temptation to sacrifice our integrity; to disregard our consciences and in the end, indulge in the selfish desires of our hearts.
As these truths became clear, I was led to review again, in the New Testament, especially in the book of Mark, the temptations that confronted Jesus in the wilderness. And what I found serves only as a bright beacon of light, shedding heavenly illumination on the importance of the lessons we learn from the life of one of God's obedient children - Uriah the Hittite.
What is completely clear in these two stories is that not only were the enticements which confronted Jesus identical to the roadblocks David threw up in Uriah's pathway, what's more, these are the same temptations you and I find so very difficult to withstand. The challenges to our senses - appetites and passions. The challenge to lose our hold on our Father and allow the trials of life to shake our confidence in Him. And finally, the ultimate temptation to get so caught up in the things of this earth that we see, we forget the unseen beauty of God's eternity.
It is with this background that I want to look at the comparisons between the temptations Uriah faced in a wilderness battle in his life and those Jesus faced in the wilderness battle of His life.
First, and very important, Mark tells us that Jesus was "driven into the wilderness by the Spirit." As you'll note, Jesus didn't invite temptation. He didn't choose to "sit in the seat of the scornful." He was driven (put forth, sent away) into the wilderness. Likewise, one of the first things we found out about Uriah was that he didn't invite temptation, either. He was plucked off the battlefield by the call of his king. Uriah was called home to the palace by none other than King David himself, who proved to be a wily foe in the face of Uriah's life of integrity.
Once in the wilderness, the first temptation Jesus confronted was an appeal to the senses - the appetite. And David used an identical technique when he tried to entrap Uriah by offering him a "mess of meat from the king" and a visit to "thy house," with his wife Bathsheba.
Next, we find the Devil throwing out the phrase to Jesus, "If Thou be the Son of God." But the Devil didn't stop with this doubt intruding statement, he continued by encouraging Jesus to "test" the faithfulness of His Father by throwing Himself over a cliff. And we find that David continued his attack on Uriah by not only clouding his mind with food and wine but then questioning the loyalty of Uriah when he chose to disobey King David's order and not go down to his house and spend the night with Bathsheba. "Who do you trust?" This was what David was saying to Uriah.
And finally, the Devil offered Jesus this world - little old planet earth in exchange for Christ sacrificing His own integrity and putting His wishes and desires ahead of everything else - especially ahead of the eternal battle. And this is exactly what David did when, after flattering Uriah, he sent this self-sacrificing valiant soldier back to war with a message that David knew full-well would bring the demise of one who had chosen to put the ark, the king, the battle, and his fellow soldiers before himself.
This correlation, this mirror image, should lead each of us to take a step back as we reassess our own lives and the daily challenges we face - for in the end, when temptations clamor for our attention, we will find the battle still rages for the control of our appetites and passions. The battle still looms as to whom we trust. And in the end, the battle is still waging for the integrity of our hearts. As H. H. Farmer clearly states, "God's victories are won only on the battlefield of the human heart." For each of us, there is a wilderness. There is a battle. But thankfully, our Father promises He will never leave us or forsake us until the battle is won.
"We will be controlled either by Satan, by self or by God. Control by Satan is slavery; control by self is futility; control by God is victory."
"The desert waits,
ready for those who come,
who come obedient to the Spirit's leading;
or who are driven…
…the desert always waits,
ready to let us know who we are -
the place of self-discovery.
And whilst we fear, and rightly,
the loneliness and emptiness and harshness,
we forget the angels,
whom we cannot see for our blindness,
but who come when God decides
that we need their help;
when we are ready
for what they can give us."
Bread of Tomorrow
"And He (Jesus) stayed in the wilderness…
…and the angels ministered
to Him, continually."
Mark 1: 13, Amplified Bible
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.