The book Ulysses by James Joyce is often hailed as a masterpiece of modern fiction, but to some it’s a strange if not wholly incomprehensible book. Joyce himself was considered odd as well. His preferred writing position was to lie down on his stomach and use an oversized pencil, his face only inches away from the page. Many viewed this as nothing more than the curious behavior of a strange man. But the fact is that there was good reason behind his behavior: Joyce was nearly blind and was forced to write in this manner in order to see the page clearly.
On the surface, Jesus’ trials in the desert seem to be odd as well. He had just been baptized by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-16), the most powerful prophet of the time, and His first step after that was to retreat into the desert in order to fast and be tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1). That’s a different way to start a ministry! But we see in this passage that there’s more to this situation as it was the Spirit of God who led Jesus into the desert. This was no foolish choice—the wisdom and care of God went with Jesus as He faced His challenging foe. Indeed, this was not the only moment of His life where the Spirit led Christ, for we know the Spirit was present at His baptism (Matthew 3:16) and gave Jesus His first words of ministry (Luke 4:18).
The choices of Jesus’ followers will not always make sense to outside observers. That’s because our lives are led by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9,14), whose ways often do not make sense to the world (1 Corinthians 2:10-12). But if we’re led by the Spirit, we can trust that God’s presence, love, and wisdom go with us—no matter what turn we take in life.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 2:41–3:11
Read Acts 8:26-40 for another example of the Spirit leading someone to do something incredibly unpredictable and utterly miraculous.
Have you ever been led by the Spirit to do something that others could not understand? How do you distinguish between the leading of the Spirit and the whims and desires of your own heart?