What color are the leaves on trees? For many months of the year, we would say that they are green. That is the color we see when we look at trees from March to September. However, green is not the native color of leaves. Leaves are really yellow, orange, or red in their native state. They turn green in the spring and summer months because of the presence of chlorophyll. However, when the days become shorter and the temperatures drop in the fall, the true colors of leaves show through.
I was thinking about this today as I read Matthew 4:1-11. As we have seen in recent weeks in our sermon series, “Foundations,” Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River (at the end of Matthew 3) just before He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan in Matthew 4.
The process of going through the water and then emerging in the wilderness is not an uncommon pattern in Scripture. In fact, when the Israelites left Egypt in the Exodus, they went into the waters of the Red Sea before entering the wilderness en route to possessing the promised land. The wilderness years of the nation of Israel revealed their true identity. They were not selected by God because of their superiority or personal righteousness, they were selected by God because of God’s grace revealed in His choice. The wilderness years revealed the sinfulness of the Israelites through their idol worship, complaining, and the like.
Now, contrast the Israelites wilderness years with Jesus’ time in the desert. After walking into the waters of the Jordan for baptism, Jesus heads into the wilderness to face the stiffest temptation possible – from Satan Himself. However, Jesus’ time in the wilderness revealed His true color as well – as the One who is truly righteous! Jesus’ white hot purity shows against the darkness of the desert in great detail. Though He was tempted in all ways, He remained obedient to His Father’s will.
Think of it this way, in the wilderness, the chlorophyll of comfort is removed, revealing our true colors. The fact that Jesus was tempted (and yet did not sin) is a GREAT encouragement to you and me. The One who is truly righteous desires to help us in our wilderness wanderings. When our true colors want to show through in times of distress, the life-giving power of the Spirit of Jesus can empower us to victory over the temptations in our life.
This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church we will be looking at Jesus’ triumph in His temptation and the hope that provides for you and me. See you Sunday in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 worship service!