Wilderness Experiences

By Joe Stowell on October 5, 2018

Is it just me, or does it seem like Americans have become increasingly fascinated with outdoor experiences like mountain climbing, white-water rafting, rappelling and other treacherous activities? At Cornerstone University, I've noticed that outdoor wear has become a fashion statement and some students prefer to do their homework in hammocks strung high in the trees. Camping and hiking are popular weekend activities as students pursue the challenge and adventure of the wilderness.

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

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.

Category: Devotionals