When you were baptized what happened? Did you experience something supernatural? Did you feel your sins being washed away? Did a dove from heaven descend upon you? Did you immediately get sent into the desert to be tempted? I don’t think so. When I was baptized, I remember being filled with joy and pride. I remember feeling a sense of fulfillment, like I was in the midst of doing something I was meant to do. I also remember feeling a great responsibility. A responsibility to live out the life that Christ had called me to live. I was a young teenager when I became a Christian.
My mom tells me that she noticed an immediate difference in the area that was of greatest concern to her at the time…my relationship with my sister. We used to fight all the time. But when I was baptized, mom noticed that I began a serious attempt to show more love and patience with my sister. This initial zeal was good, but my commitment to the Lord in every area was quickly tested throughout my teen years and beyond.
When Jesus was baptized in Matthew 3 to “fulfill all righteousness” do you know what happened next? In chapter 4, Jesus was “led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” The devil did not take Jesus into the desert, God did. God willingly subjected Jesus to the fires of satanic temptation. I thought God was supposed to protect us? He does. But he does not shield us from the world, and he didn’t do that with Jesus. The Father tested the faith of his son. He wanted to make sure that Jesus’ faith was strong and that he truly was committed to being a faithful son.
It is no different with us. When we commit ourselves to God, he will allow us to be tempted in order to see if we are truly committed to Him. In other words, being a Christian will be hard. Choosing God over earthly temptation will not be easy but it is required by righteousness. If following Jesus was going to be easy I don’t think terms like “taking up your cross” and “narrow way” would be used to describe it. Remember though that God will not allow us to be tempted with something that we cannot bear (1Cor 13:13). And he uses these times of trial to develop in us a genuine faith of perseverance that will bring us even greater joy and fulfillment in the end (1Pet 1:7).