If you want to learn a specific skill or ability, it is important who you talk to and learn from. If you want to become a better communicator, talk to great communicators and study their habits. If you want to lead more effectively, read the books of leaders you admire and listen to their wisdom. If you want to become a better father or mother, look to others who have parented well for years ahead of you. Who we look to for our example is a critical component to what we can learn and who we become. This is true spiritually. When it comes to walking close to the Lord, Jesus’ life on earth sets the perfect model for us.
Following Jesus’ baptism, something very interesting happens – Scripture tells us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. This leading was not just a gentle suggestion of where He should go next. Mark’s gospel says the Spirit compelled Him to go. The Greek word for compel means to send out with force. What was so urgent that Jesus would need to spend the next forty days praying and fasting in the wilderness? We often flee places that look like the wilderness, but what we see in this story is not only that the wilderness is a part of God’s plan, but a part of His preparation for the season to come.
It was in the wilderness that Jesus was able to escape the distractions and set His attention fully on His Father. It was in the wilderness where He found Himself completely dependent upon God. And although God the Father was with Him, the enemy showed up too. Satan arrived and began testing Jesus, attempting to once again subvert worship from the Father to himself. Jesus responded quickly and strategically with the Scripture that he had hidden in his heart.
After forty days spent in the wilderness praying and fasting, Luke includes a critical piece of information, “Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power.”
Prior to entering the wilderness Luke says Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit, but now he says Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Jesus left the wilderness different than when He walked in. And, the Spirit’s power would be essential for the ministry Jesus would engage in. Therefore, even when it did not feel like it, the wilderness was a time of blessing as it prepared Jesus for what He would soon come to accomplish.
The beauty found in a wilderness season and times of prayer and fasting is that we leave differently than when we came. We leave with more of the Holy Spirit’s power.
God’s desire for every person is that through this time of fasting we leave with more of His presence and more of His power, not for ourselves, but for the people He wants us to reach in the days ahead.
The power Jesus gained from that wilderness experience led to teaching God’s Word with boldness, healing the sick, setting captives free, giving hope to the hopeless, making the lame walk, restoring the sight of the blind, and so much more. God’s will is that we too would walk in a boldness that comes from being in His presence and that out of this time of prayer and fasting we would be filled with the Holy Spirit’s power!
Luke 4:1-14 (NLT)
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, where he was tempted by the devil for forty days. Jesus ate nothing all that time and became very hungry.
Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’”
Then the devil took him up and revealed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.”
Jesus replied, “The Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
and serve only him.’”
Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.
And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”
When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came.
Then Jesus returned to Galilee, filled with the Holy Spirit’s power. Reports about him spread quickly through the whole region.
Mark 1:12 (NLT)
The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness,