Mark 1:12-13 — The Temptation of Jesus

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Many stories are contained in these verses. The account of Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness is fully described in Matthew and Luke. The fact that the Son of God used the Scriptures — verses in Deuteronomy — to withstand the temptation is of tremendous example to us mere mortals. That was the ultimate course in how to withstand temptation–to know the Scriptures. I know recipes better than I know Scripture. What a shame. But that really wasn’t my point here. I wanted to talk about the action of the Holy Spirit in driving Jesus to the wilderness. Could Jesus have done any differently than to have submitted to the will of the Holy Spirit? I guess the Calvinists would say “No.”

But here is another example of Jesus being submitted to the will of His Heavenly Father in the person of the Holy Spirit. For us to be fully pleasing to God demands that we be “driven” by the Holy Spirit. I like the mental image of the Holy Spirit actually being in the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle. We are taking each turn and stop by the will Holy Spirit. No doubt if we were to submit fully to the will of the Spirit, every single choice, action, thought and word would be completely in obedience with the will of the Spirit.

The Spirit’s driving Jesus into the wilderness immediately after his baptism is consistent with being put into a proving ground before entering a public ministry. Paul experienced this–wasn’t it for 14 years? Sources compared Jesus’s temptation to the wandering of the children of Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. You know, 40 days compared to 40 days!? I don’t know. Maybe I’m just a bit cynical about the comparisons–maybe because I had a pastor back in the 60s and 70s who was deep into the numerical stuff and preached enough sermons about it to last more than a lifetime. So, I’m still full! Other sources compared Jesus’s life with Adam and the Garden of Eden. In other words, Jesus is doing perfectly what Adam was unable to do. I even saw Jesus’s baptism compared to the Children of Israel’s “baptism” in the Red Sea! But wait, they didn’t even get wet, so how could that be a valid comparison? In my way of thinking comparisons dilute the strength of the present Scripture and call into question the credibility of the expositor, especially in the case of “stretchy” comparisons. Let’s just talk about the passage at hand. And, yes, we can illuminate it with other Scripture of course. Analogies are fine too, as long as they are closely related. If we follow the example of Jesus, he mostly taught in story form (parables).

“And he was with wild animals and the angels were ministering unto him.” I’m not completely sure about the meaning of this verse. I found a sermon that was preached at Christmas time entitled “And was with the Wild Beasts.” The speaker speculated that the audience probably thought he was going to speak about baby Jesus in the manger with those animals, but instead he preached this passage. Maybe protection from the wild beasts is inferred from this passage, but I don’t think so. If the inanimate stones could becomes children of Abraham, surely the wild beasts know not to harm God’s Son.

The ministry of the angels to Jesus Christ speaks to the ministry the angels have to believers. If we had a true picture of all the encouragement we have to obey God’s word and submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading and withstand the devil’s temptations, we would fail less. Not only do we have the angels ministering to us, we have Jesus’s intercessory work of continually praying for us, and we have the “the cloud of witnesses” referred to in Hebrews 12:1. How in the world do we ever succumb to temptation? If we could just tap into the power that Jesus used in the wilderness to keep from sinning, how much better our Christian walk would be.

Dear Lord, please help me to use the resources you have graciously given to believers to withstand the temptations we will most certainly encounter in our earthly lives. Heolp me to live a Holy Spirit filled life and be “driven” by the Holy Spirit. Thank you dear Lord for your mercy to me. Amen.


~ by shoesofiron on July 4, 2007.

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