When I read the temptation story of Jesus in our present day I immediately notice something:
He was isolated.
He was hungry, He was weak, and He was alone.
There were no disciples to hear His teachings, no children to hold on the knee, and no lepers to heal.
There was no one to see, no one to touch, no one to love.
There was simply no one.
The God-man had been drawn into the wilderness to be met by only one: the deceiver.
Of the three temptations Satan delivered that day I wonder which one was the hardest for Him?
Would the lack of food make the God-Man crumble?
Would the slithering words of deception succeed in convincing Jesus to do things another way – to call down the angels the Psalmist had cried out to in order to save Him from the fall?
Perhaps, just maybe the easy way out words Satan would try to win Him over with were the ones inviting Jesus to get all He wanted in one moment – all the kingdoms of the world – without the mocking, the spitting, the accusations, the nails, and the cross.
In my flesh, I honestly don’t think I would have thought of anything else but the physical pain of what I knew was ahead. I just can’t imagine what Jesus went through during those beatings, those piercing nails, and the hours He would hang naked on that cross.
But I don’t think that was what Jesus saw in His mind when He heard Satan’s temptations, and I know now that the images I would have dreaded didn’t keep Him from coming to the earth.
I think what flashed through Jesus’ mind was every face He had ever created, and all the ones waiting for His deliverance. He thought about a salvation He could do something about, something that would change the destiny of all of creation forever.
Think about it, taking over the world in a moment was nothing to the Creator of it. Causing all that He had made to bow to Him could have been done without the 33+ years of waiting for the inevitable. But the one thing Jesus didn’t have in that wilderness – the joy that was set before Him – were all of the faces He still wanted to touch, all of the bodies He still wanted to heal, and all of the souls He still wanted to save from their own wilderness.
I think what Jesus would have missed if He had bowed that day are some of the very things we long for now in this season of COVID: the face to face expressions, the touch of a human hand, the hugs of family and friends… maybe not in this life, but in the one that is to come where we will walk with Him forever. I think the one thing He would have missed was us.
I’m tired of wearing a mask.
I’m tired of not getting to hug my 91 year old Daddy.
I’m tired of separation.
I’m weary of wondering if today’s the day I’ll spike that fever, lose my sense of taste and smell, or move into quarantine.
But this morning all I can think about is this: there was no mask, no pandemic, no serpent’s deception, and no cross that would have kept Jesus from coming to me.
I was the joy that made Him come.
And so were you.
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