Matthew 4:1 “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.”
Mark 1:12 “And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.”
Luke 4:1 “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.”
I remember hearing a comedy routine years ago picturing a courtroom scene. The plaintiff is in the witness stand and points an accusing finger at the defendant shouting: “That man threatened to drive me into the sea.” The defendant’s attorney rose and said: “Point of order your honor, my client merely offered to give the plaintiff a ride in his car to the beach.”
It has been my habit over the years to get up early in the morning and spend a minimum of three hours studying the Word of God in the Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic. I usually leave for work at 7:15 AM so I get up about 3:30 in the morning to spend my time in study. There are, of course, some mornings I tell myself that I am going to sleep in. This morning was one of those mornings. It was Saturday, it had been a rough week and I figured for once I would just sleep in. However, by 4:00 AM I am wide awake feeling driven to get up and study. Mark 1:12 came to mind that Jesus was driven into the wilderness. I was hooked, now I was really driven to get up and study this word driven.
I discovered that this story of Jesus being driven or led into the wilderness to be tempted was found in three of the four Gospels. In two of the Gospels, Matthew and Luke, the KJV says that Jesus was led into the wilderness. Mark, however, tells us that He was driven into the wilderness. As I believe the Bible to be the inspired Word of God and inerrant, I do not believe it was one or the other, but He was both driven and led into the wilderness. However, like the factious court case, you would logically think it must be either one or the other, it cannot be both. Either was calmly led and guided by the Spirit of God or the Spirit of God forced Him into the wilderness. At least that is the impression you get from the use of our English words.
In Greek we have three different words that are used. In Matthew the word led is anago which is a nautical term used for setting sail, or launching boat. Here we have a picture of the Spirit of God sort of sending Him off on His journey into the wilderness. In the Mark account the word driven is the word ekballei in the Greek which has the idea of casting out, banishing or expelling. It seems to suggest that Jesus was sent out against his own desires or will. Then in the Luke account we see the Greek word egeto used for being led. Egeto has the idea of being guided, directed or led. Following the Greek text it appears the Gospels are not in harmony with each other. One would suggest that Jesus was cheerfully sent on His way into the wilderness with the Spirit of God waving “bye, bye.” The other suggests that Jesus was forced, against his will to go into the wilderness and the third suggest that He was gentle and calmly guided by the Spirit of God into the wilderness.
One thing is certain from all these words and that is that Jesus was prompted by the Spirit of God. That is a major hurdle. I have to ask myself, “Am I giving up three hours of sleep every morning out of habit or is it the prompting of the Spirit of God? We face a lot of decisions in our lives. We confront many crossroads in life’s journey and we truly want to move in the direction that God’s wants us to move, but how do we know that the direction we have chosen is really of God or just our own reasoning.
This presents another reason why I believe the Gospels were written in Aramaic rather than Greek. The Greek words are almost contradictory where the words in Aramaic suggest a harmonious dove tailing of two words. In the Matthew and Luke account the word led is the word dever in Aramaic and the Aramaic word used in the Mark account is nafak. Dever has the suggestion of being led by an inward prompting, a whispering into one’s heart. Nafak has the idea of an outward prompting, something that you physically feel with your senses. Dever and nafak go hand in hand. Jesus felt the Spirit of God whispering in His heart (dever) to go into the wilderness and then he experienced something with His physical senses (nafak)that guided him or directed him. When the Tsunami in Thailand struck it was said that before it hit and anyone knew about it, the animals started heading off into the jungle. The locals seeing the animals and birds flying into the jungle knew something was up, they did not know what, but they understood that the animals knew and they followed them. This is nafaksomething that appealed to the sight. Sometimes it is a sound, the cry of a baby will prompt a mother to get up in the middle of the night to go to her child, that is nafak, a physical sound giving direction. Bakeries were noted for opening their doors to let the smell of fresh baked bread lead potential customers into their shop. That is also nafak. The Gospels tell us Jesus was led by the Spirit. The word in Aramaic for Spirit is rukha which is many times rendered as wind. I see a typical Semitic play on words here. Jesus was not only led by the Spirit of God, but the Spirit of God gave him direction from the gentle blowing of the wind.
This morning I experienced dever, a prompting in my heart to study the Word of God. I also experience nafak which in this case was an awakening, I could no longer sleep. Physically, I had a choice, to either lie in bed staring at the ceiling or get up and do something and since my heart was filled with curiosity over the word driven, I chose to get up and study.
I believe the lesson her in the three Gospels is that God leads both by dever (a whisper to your heart) combined with a nafak (an outward leading or direction). How many times do you feel a whisper in your heart (dever) to share the love of God with someone and then you look up and see (nafak) someone sitting alone on a bench looking like they need a word of love? Let Jesus be your example in being led.