BEFORE the Lord’s Temptation, we read this:
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.–Matthew 4:1
AFTER the Lord’s Temptation, we hear this:
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.–Matthew 6:13
Wow. After the Temptation we find Jesus saying, “Pray to God that He never leads you into temptation!”
Do you think there may be a connection between the events of the Wilderness Temptation in Matthew 4 and the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6?
As you read, I believe your gratitude and value for the Lord’s Prayer is about to be enhanced in a new way, and I think you will find that “connection” is a weak word for describing the link between the two. With all humility, I say that reading this is going to be worth your time. Now get your Bibles open.
God couldn’t stay in Heaven and save us. God couldn’t save us from Heaven. God had to come live on Earth. Prayers formed in Heaven can’t help us either. Prayers that are formed in 40 plus days of utter human desolation are the kind that can help us.
I do not believe that the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 was formed from an academic knowledge of the needs of man, I believe it was formed from a deep, “been there, done that” experience. It wasn’t crafted according to the academic knowledge of the lofty perches of a joyous heaven. No, I believe it may have been forged in the gritty experience of a torturous desert here on earth.
Calvary made Him our Redeemer, but the Wilderness helped form Him as our Intercessor. Our salvation could not be redeemed through instruments of pearly gates or golden thrones. It came through a barbaric instrument of earth-grown wood.
In the same sense, prayers that come strictly from walking on streets of gold surrounded by gates of pearl where banquets will be served are not so effective. You need a prayer that was formed by crawling in scorpion-filled sand with a blistering Sun by day and shivering winds by night surrounded by hungry jackals (Mark 1:13) that you have to fight off while you are cramping with hunger pains. You don’t need prayers that were formed while hearing the joyous praises of heavenly choirs. No, you need to learn prayers that were formed amongst the din of a relentless tempting voice that continually questioned who you are, what you’re doing, and what do you think you’ll ever accomplish.
I believe that the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6 came from a deeply dug empathy for the most basic needs and condition of humanity. Christ was made to experience the most utter desolation of the human condition. He suffered solitary confinement with no one to comfort.
It is often said that Christ performed miracles because He was moved with great compassion. I believe this great compassion was formed in a place of great destitution that felt every need that a human could have.
I believe that the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 was the product of the Lord’s wilderness experience in Matthew 4. Watch this:
In the Wilderness, Satan continually questioned Christ’s relationship with the Father by saying, “If you are the Son of God”.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus reminded us to declare our relationship with God by saying, “Our Father who art in Heaven”. This reminds us that we are His children. If you declare who He is, then you’ll know who you are. This is what we need.
In the Wilderness, Satan wanted Jesus to worship him by saying, “If you will bow down and worship me”.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed us to worship God and focus on His name by saying, “Hallowed by thy name”. If you focus on the name, you won’t end up worshiping another. Worshiping Him is what we need.
In the Wilderness, Satan offered to give Christ the kingdoms of the world by saying, “All these things I will give you”.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed us to pray for transformation of the world by saying, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. This is needed.
In the Wilderness, Satan tempted Christ to supply his own needs by saying, “command that these stones become bread”.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed us to depend on God for food by saying, “Give us this day our daily bread”. God is our provider. We really need to remember that and not worry!
In the Wilderness, Christ was continually tempted to fall short of loving the Father with His whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. In addition to no food, harsh elements, extreme temperature changes, absolute solitary isolation, and the constant threat of wild animals (Mark 1:13), I am of the persuasion that it is completely reasonable to believe that Christ suffered from severe sleeplessness as well. Keep in mind that it only took one angel to help Jesus recover from sweating great drops of blood in Gethsemane, but it took a team of angels to help Him recover from the Wilderness! It was as much a mental battle as physical. It is hard to love that much when the one you love is leading you into such anguish and misery. He knew that the Spirit was the mastermind behind this entire torturous experience (Matt. 4:1) and that Satan was only asking why do you want to keep suffering instead of taking shortcuts. The Father knew exactly what He was doing to the Son. It can be easier to forgive those who don’t know what they are doing, then to not get offended by those who know exactly what they are doing to you. Even though God’s plan was for the greater good, unending physical and mental torture has a way of shutting down your thoughts and could cause you to question why the one you love so much is bringing you so much pain and torture. This is why when Satan began to question “If you are the Son of God”, it didn’t sound so stupid to Christ but was actually very tempting. After 40 plus days of unrelenting torment it becomes tempting to think “What father would do this to his son?”. Satan knew what was swirling around in the head of Jesus and didn’t waste his words but chose them very, very carefully. Christ was truly tempted to bow to Satan’s appeals, but instead He clung to the scriptures and would not let offense take root. Christ overcame the temptation of offense, kept his heart clear, and kept the Greatest commandment.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed us to keep our hearts clear by saying, “And forgive us of our offenses, as we forgive those who have offended us.” This is what we need to keep the greatest commandments.
In the Wilderness, the scripture shows the Spirit led Him into this time of temptation by saying, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil”.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs us to plead with the Father by saying, “And lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”. You get the picture. Jesus knows what we need to be asking.
I’ll say it again: In the Wilderness, Satan was the owner of the kingdoms and said, “It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to.”
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructed us to pray, “For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.” It’s a new day. Redemption has been paid. Now go out there and occupy the land until He comes. This is what we need to do.
Finally, in the Wilderness, Jesus had to face all of this alone.
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs us to never pray or face these things alone. We are to come together and pray “OUR Father” “Give US” “Forgive US” “As WE forgive” “Do not lead US”, “Deliver US”. That is what the Church needs.
So, it is my belief that out of the vast emptiness of the desert comes this full declaration for bountiful living:
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
You ever listen to a Veteran open up and talk about their P.O.W. experiences? I have. I think Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer with great intensity as He thought back on that horrific experience!
When was the last time you thanked Christ for enduring the Wilderness and giving you this prayer? Let’s not forget the Lord’s Prayer and the cost involved in discovering our greatest needs as human beings. Let’s honor what our Lord went through, taught us, and expects all of us to come together and put into practice. It’s the only way the Kingdom will advance.