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Dirt, Deserts, and the Holy Spirit

Scripture Reading | Luke 4:1-11

Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving.

The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.”

Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.”

Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”

The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”

Jesus answered, “It’s been said, Don’t test the Lord your God.” After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity.

Common English Bible (Nashville, TN: Common English Bible, 2011), Lk 4:1–13.


This passage of Scripture has always captured my imagination. Jesus entered the wilderness “full of the Holy Spirit.”

As Jesus entered the wilderness, it was him, the dirt, and Holy Spirit … and that was it. Remember, wilderness, in this context is not a forest, but more like a desert. Jesus would be here for forty days … and no food.

Fasting for this length of time would not have been easy for him either. I love that Luke helps us see Jesus’ humanity when he says, “He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry” (Lk 4:2, emphasis mine).

Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus is tempted in three specific ways. Each temptation is resisted. How does Jesus do it? How does he battle the devil while he himself is at the weakest moment of his 40 day excursion? Remember, Luke has already drawn our attention to his humanity. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is just like us when it comes to temptation (Hebrews 4:15). He is not superman.

So how does he do it? How does he resist?

I believe it might have to do with a couple of things.

  1. We know the Holy Spirit was leading him and was with him during this time.
  2. Scripture was deeply impeded in his mind, so much so that he could recite it.

I believe this is a powerful 1-2 punch. We need to the Holy Spirit and Scripture in us.


Look at the dirt you’ve gathered. Leave this out this week to remind you of Jesus and how he handled temptation. Commit each day to do the following:

  • Begin the day with a simple prayer, “Come Holy Spirit.”
  • Make a commitment to read one chapter of the Gospel of John each day from now till Easter. There are 21 chapters. 

Going Deeper

If you have a few more minutes, here’s a few more things to think about.

  1. Read David’s great confession in Psalm 51. Why do you think he prayed, “Do not … take your Holy Spirit from me”?
  2. Read Galatians 5:16. What does Paul say is the key to resisting temptation?
  3. We often are tempted the most when stressed. What practices might help you invite the Holy Spirit to meet you during those times?


Lord, inflame our hearts and our inmost beings with the fire of Your Holy Spirit, that we may serve You with chaste bodies and pure minds. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

Reagan Waggoner - February 21, 2021

Jesus and Dirt

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