Text – Mark 1:9-15
9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
The Temptation of Jesus
12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”
Mark, the writer of the Gospel of Mark, tied together three opening events in Jesus’ ministry – his baptism, his temptation in the wilderness, and is emergence into public ministry. Jesus being pressed into the wilderness by the Spirit is pertinent to our meditations during Lent.
Wilderness is not a new theme in the Bible. In Mark, there seems to be some symbolic correlation between Israel’s experience, e.g., Israel went through the Red Sea (baptism) and immediately into the wilderness with all its struggles and temptations. Paul also draws a comparison in 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 by saying that “in cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses….Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.”
The Hebrews writer said that “we have a great high priest who understands our weaknesses, for he faced all the same temptations that we do,” Hebrews 4:15.
At Lent we are drawn to think about the trials of living, alongside the fact that Jesus entered into those trials with us and now understands and advocates for us. Furthermore we can be reminded that Jesus is the perfect model for what surviving the wilderness looks like, as opposed to the Israelites who were overcome by the wilderness.
Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day. Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity, and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose. I pray this through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.