And when it was day, he departed and went into a desolate place. And the people sought him and came to him, and would have kept him from leaving them, but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.”
(Luke 4:42-43 ESV)
Luke is not shy of referring to the work of the Holy Spirit in his writing. Indeed the sequel to this letter is as much considered the Acts of the Holy Spirit as it is the Acts of the Apostles. There have already been numerous references to the role of the Holy Spirit before chapter 4, his role in this chapter is intriguing.
It’s intriguing in how it is empowerment of the Spirit that enables Jesus to go through the 40 days of fasting in the wilderness and to overcome temptation by the devil. It’s also this empowerment of the Spirit that enables Jesus to launch the public ministry by outlining his mission in reference to what Isaiah prophesied.
It is the empowerment of the Spirit that kept Jesus focused on His purpose. Kept him focused through the overt tempting of the devil, kept him focused through the rejection from his own people. Kept him focused when demonic spirits looked to kick up a fuss about his identity. Kept him focused when others wanted him to stay in one place, but he knew where his mission was to take him.
Part of the effectiveness of temptation is to distract from the way, the truth and the life. Endeavouring to sidetrack us, temptation will even make the good the enemy of the right. It might have been good to have stayed in the one location. It might have been good for his real identity to be revealed. It might have been good to turn the rocks onto bread to feed the hungry body. It might have been good to do those things, but they would have detracted from the right path set by God to fulfil His purpose.
Bombarded by these various types of tests and trials, we see already a crucial component in overcoming them. Namely ever seeking and relying on the empowerment of the Spirit.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden