“Then Jesus returned from the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness.”Luke 4:1
Everyone wants to know who they are and what they’re supposed to be doing with their lives. Entire industries exist to market books, conferences, tests, and groups to help people find their truest self and fulfill their mission in life. For those of us who follow the way of Jesus, we find our identity in Him and our purpose in advancing His Kingdom. In a world seeking to find purpose and self-understanding, we have a unique ability to speak into it and offer God’s original design for humanity – that knowing God leads to truly knowing ourselves.
Jesus Himself experienced this reality at the beginning of His ministry. In Luke 4, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the wilderness where He experienced temptations from Satan. It’s important to note here that temptation itself is not sin. Instead, it’s the recognition of an alternate way of life different from God’s path for us. So, Satan arrives to tempt Jesus in the wilderness after He knows that the cross loomed before Him and offered Him other solutions to saving the world.
The first temptation was to change the stones to bread, essentially saying that if Jesus would feed the people of Israel, they would follow Him. No need to die for people when you feed them, right? But Jesus rejects this offer by knowing the Scriptures, knowing God’s truth about life, and Him being the true sustenance required to live.
So, Satan tempts Jesus a second time to be a spectacular Messiah: jump from the roof of the temple, and the angels will save Him! The Jews expected a Messiah who would perform great miracles, so why die on the cross when Jesus could win them over by an amazing feat? Again, Jesus denies the temptation by referring to Scripture. Satan implied by this second temptation that God is only trustworthy when He rescues us from suffering and danger, but Jesus knew God is trustworthy even when He allows us to suffer. True faith recognizes and perseveres in hardship.
Finally, Satan tempts Jesus one last time to be a smart Messiah. If Jesus would follow Satan instead of God, he would give Him the world so He wouldn’t have to die for it. Jesus, of course, sees through this and refers to Scripture a third time saying that God is the only One worthy of worship and service, and He demands that Satan leave.
In our lives, as we seek to uncover who we are and our purpose in life, we can rely on our own strength, our passion, our knowledge, and whatever else we think we possess, but those will eventually be exhausted. When we come to that moment, may we remember the example of Jesus. He knew God, so He knew Himself and His purpose – to be our Savior. As we ourselves grapple with who we are and our purpose, we can look to the Word of God where we have been called very good image bearers who have been redeemed through the blood of Christ so that we might be courageous in this world to proclaim the kingdom of God. No need for a book, a conference, or a group to tell you who you are meant to be. If you know God, you will know what He has called you to today, tomorrow, and for the rest of eternity.