Loving Father, in my busy world, I long to hear Your voice. Speak to me through Your Word today.
Read MARK 1:9-13
The Baptism and Testing of Jesus
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
- Mark 1:13 The Greek for tempted can also mean tested.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Lord Jesus, we bow in worship before You, Whose sandals we are not worthy to untie.
Today we read of the inauguration of Jesus Christ’s ministry. He comes from His home in the north, that backwater of Palestine, and meets the crowd that has come from the south. He submits to His cousin and identifies with all the ordinary people as He is baptized. Here He is loved and affirmed and encouraged by His Father in an experience that Mark seems to indicate is for his eyes alone.
If we did not know the story, what would we expect to happen next? Surely not what we read in verse 12. This is not what happens after an inauguration. We expect an appearance before crowds, in the capital, with recognition by people of high standing. Instead, the Spirit takes Jesus aside for a period of deprivation and testing. The 40 days recalls the period Elijah spent in the desert with the ravens feeding him (40 days is a long time to be without water: did the ‘angels’ of verse 13 somehow supply Jesus with food and water?). It also recalls the time when the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Mark doesn’t mention Jesus’ specific temptations; we are presented instead with a man struggling alone with the elements and wild animals. Already we are being invited to meet someone who is radically different from others. Jesus knows that He will encounter Satanic opposition to His ministry. Instead of drawing His strength from the adulation of crowds, He withdraws and faces the challenges head on, alone, ahead of time.
Perhaps we should see in Mark’s description of Jesus’ experience in the wilderness something that recurs in the Gospel. The Greek word translated ‘tempted’ also means ‘tested’. Satan intends to harm, but God ‘intends it for good’1, and Jesus emerges from this period in the wilderness strengthened for ministry.
Notice how Mark emphasizes the time both John and Jesus spend in preparation. Do you have challenges ahead? How are you preparing for them?
Father, like most people, I don’t like tests. But I know I need strengthening with courage, so teach me as You will for my good and growth.
1 cf., Gen 50:20