Mark is still moving very quickly through the “preliminaries” of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Not that these events are somehow not worth dwelling on, but that he seems in a hurry to get to the “action stories.” Jesus in the wilderness is definitely important enough for Mark to mention, but he didn’t feel his audience would want to dwell on it, AND the Holy Spirit didn’t prompt him to dwell on it either. We always have to remember the audience Mark was writing to and that ALL scripture is inspired by God. Maybe Mark was just an “action fanatic” and wanted to get to the big scenes.
We are told that “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (verse 12). Jesus knew God’s plan and each step that would be required. While Jesus was here on Earth, the Holy Spirit and the angels sometimes acted as intermediaries between God and Jesus. Jesus had an open line of communication with His Father, but sometimes Jesus needed a personal physical touch too; like in the Garden of Gethsemane when an angel ministered strength to Him. Today we have the Holy Spirit ministering urgency to Him.
I don’t know very many people who say, “YEAH! I get to do a 40 day fast!” Jesus left the Jordan River and headed into His 40 day fast, without stopping by the local burger joint for a final fix. He might have even been hungry from His walk to where John was. But no time like the present, especially when He felt God’s pull in that direction. To do anything else would have been sin.
In the other gospel writer’s account of Jesus in the wilderness, their narratives imply that Satan waited until the end of Jesus’ fast to tempt Him. I wonder if he did or not. Mark’s account makes it possible that Satan was busy during the whole 40 days. This would fit with Jesus’ time in the wilderness being symbolic of Israel’s 40 years of wandering. Israel was tempted, many times simply by the memories of “indulgences” from their past, the whole time they were wandering. Time and time again they failed to rise to the occasion. Moses even gave in to anger and sinned during one of his testing phases. But Jesus met every trial thrown at Him without succumbing to sin.
Mark mentions wild animals in the wilderness too. What kind of animals did Jesus encounter? Were they simply things like scorpions and snakes or were there bigger animals too? Personally scorpions and snakes are challenging enough for me. Wolves and hyenas would put me over the edge. But not Jesus. He didn’t bring any kind of weapon into this journey; or at least we are not told of any in any account of this event. Yet He faced everything thrown at Him.
Mark also mentions angels ministering to Jesus while He was in the wilderness. Did these ministering spirits wait until Satan had finished his temptation? I’m certain they didn’t bring Him any food, as this was a prescribed fast He was undertaking, but did they minister strength to Him during His stay? Was their job to keep the wild animals at bay while He spent time in prayer? Whatever their job, they were of benefit to Jesus.
Jesus was never alone in the wilderness. God was always with Him. Jesus didn’t see His Father face to face during His time here on earth but He talked with Him at least daily. He went off to be by Himself regularly throughout His entire ministry. God would provide Him with strength to carry on each time they met together. During His wilderness time Jesus probably got a FULL CHARGE for His spiritual batteries. I wonder if Jesus and God talked about the specifics of the plan while Jesus was out there.
John had recently come in from the wilderness to start his ministry. Did he have open communication with God while he was out there? We know God prepared him for his mission during his time in the wilderness. But God left a few details out of John’s plan that John would have to face along the way. This was probably so He wouldn’t scare John off from his mission. Not many humans want to willingly walk into captivity and death. Jesus was no ordinary man, so knowing what awaited Him didn’t sway Him from His course, but even He had to wrestle with serious temptation to walk away in the end.
Father God, thank You that You meet us in the quiet places too. Sometimes I feel like I am in a spiritual wilderness. It is usually because I have not been listening, but have been doing all the talking. “Be still and know that I am God.” I really need to remember Your words more often. I also have a problem of trying to fill up the quiet spaces with something. I have no idea what I would do in an actual wilderness. No phone. No internet. No human company. Not even a stack of books or a full Kindle. Just You and me amongst the elements. Thank You that You haven’t called me to that place, at this point in my life. Maybe someday, and maybe never. But if You ever do call me to such a place I can be certain that You will be with me there too.
Remind me to carve out quiet time in my regular day and teach me how to sit still. I want to hear Your voice every day.
This is my quiet time. Thank You for reminding me of that. Thank You for speaking to me through Your pens, then and now. I love our time together. Keep me always hungry for more.