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Wilderness Experiences

October 20, 2018

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Matthew 4:1 ESV

Is it just me, or does it seem like Americans have become increasingly fascinated with things like mountain climbing, white-water rafting, rappelling, and other treacherous activities? Anyone with a desire to explore the rugged realities of nature can sign up for “adventure vacations” or attend camps that offer skills courses to help them successfully navigate through rough terrain and experience the thrill of conquering their challenges.

But as adventuresome as the wilderness may seem, it’s a dangerous place. Which makes me think of the time that Jesus went into the wilderness to go head to head with Satan. The wilderness experience for Jesus, as we learn in Matthew 4:1-25, was no cakewalk. The same tempter who had entered God’s garden—and with one decisive blow replaced the joy of Eden with the barrenness of disappointment and shame—now welcomed Jesus to his barren turf.

And don’t miss the timing. Right after the magnificent moment of Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit intentionally led Jesus into the wilderness to be confronted with Satan’s tempting suggestions. Why? To show us that Jesus knows how to win in the wilderness and that He can lead us through the wilderness successfully as well.

The key to survival? The Word of God, as Jesus so masterfully demonstrated in His wilderness experience. With every temptation, Jesus “threw the Book” at Satan. In the midst of your wilderness, pointed passages of Scripture are the KO punch that you need. The truth of God’s Word in Satan’s face protects us from the lies that are crafted to destroy us—every time!

So, let Jesus be your wilderness guide. Not only has He been through it, but in another barren place outside the walls of Jerusalem He died to grace us with His salvation so that we would be assured that one day He would be able to lead us from the wilderness of this world back to Eden again—forever!

Lord Jesus, You know exactly what it feels like to be in the wilderness, tempted and challenged by Satan. I come to You as my great High Priest, the One who can sympathize with my weakness, trusting that You can help me in my times of need. Please equip me to use Your Word as my sword and strengthen my feeble heart. I will trust You and give You all of the glory, in Your name. Amen.


  • Think about your “wilderness experience” when it comes to facing temptation and times of testing. When have you been led down paths of destruction?
  • Have you ever successfully navigated through the wilderness? If so, what was the key to your survival?
  • How well do you know God’s Word? Think of some specific ways that you can increase your knowledge of His Word and bolster your survival skills to overcome Satan’s attempts to manipulate and malign you in the future!