Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Immediately after Jesus was introduced to people by John the Baptizer, Mark 1:9-15 tells of his temptation in the wilderness. There’s a tremendous contrast in play in this passage. At his baptism, Jesus was commended by the Father and by the Holy Spirit. God’s favor was proclaimed audibly. This is truly the Son of God. We might assume that the baptism of Jesus is a genuine high point in his earthly life and ministry.
What happened immediately afteward? Jesus was compelled by the Spirit to go into the wilderness, where he fasted for forty days. He was tempted by Satan and was also living in danger from the wild animals. I think it’s safe to assume that Mark wasn’t talking about Jesus being with wild animals like butterflies. He was talking about venomous snakes, carnivorous wild dogs, big cats, and any sort of other animal that might think Jesus would be worth pursuit.
Very often we face our greatest temptations immediately after a time of blessing and approval. One author I read some years ago spoke about the difficulty of a pastor. While preaching the sermon, everything is good and fine. Then he has to face the congregation at the door of the church building, where people are suffering, where they are sick or dying, where they are confronting him with problems that defy a straightforward theological answer.
The temptation of Satan was real. It tortured Jesus in every way imaginable. Yet, as we read in the other Gospel accounts, Jesus countered Satan’s attack by relying on God’s Word. The truth was clear, even in a time of temptation. Jesus could depend on what God had spoken in Scripture. There was not need for a new revelation, a special blessing of God, or a supernatural sign. God’s Word was sufficient.
After the time of temptation, Jesus continued his work of proclaiming God’s Word. Here we find ourselves, after a tussle with the sinful nature, coming back to the promises of God. We can trust that the Lord has revealed all we need to know about life and godliness. He has great promises in the Scripture. His Word is trustworthy. So, as Jesus did, we go on from a time of hope in God’s promises, through a season of temptation, and back to a time of reliance on God’s Word.
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