10th August, 2012
BRUCE C. WEARNE
Read Mark 1:12-15
PICTURE: © John Roman
"If you know someone who is very sad, pray for them. If you see hungry faces on TV, pray. When you hear about terrorism and the killing of innocent people, pray! Maybe, one day, God will allow these people to tell us what it was like. But now we pray for them, because Jesus, God's own Son, went through such a time of pain and suffering."
After His baptism, Jesus did not return to Galilee straight away. It was not a time for crowds, but a time to be alone in the desert. This was not a time for teaching. For Jesus, the desert meant something else - something He had to go through despite the difficulty. He would be alone with a great Enemy who wanted His plans destroyed. Jesus was tried. Jesus was tempted.
At that time, there was only one thing left for Jesus to do - He could pray to His Father. That’s all. The Voice from Heaven had spoken when He came out of the water and John had heard it too. Jesus was assured He was God’s beloved son. He wasn't dreaming. But we know that, on His own, He suffered badly even if we don’t know exactly what happened.
Probably it's just as well. The Satan, the accuser of God's image bearer before God's Throne, tries to accuse and confuse (the word actually refers to the role of a prosecuting lawyer and so that is why we call the tempter "The Satan"). Mark tells us his part in the story of Jesus when he tried unsuccessfully to stop Jesus from trusting His Father in Heaven. This cheating enemy likes nothing better than for those he attacks to tell God that He has made a mistake by creating them in the first place. Sadly, this is part of this story. But Mark mentions it and moves on indicating that though Jesus suffered greatly in that desert encounter He did not give in.
Mark doesn’t tell us what the Satan looked like, what he wore or his hair colour. He simply says Jesus was tempted by the Satan. That's enough for us to know. If he could tempt and test Jesus, then that's enough to help us pay close attention. Keep in mind that Mark gives only one sentence to this. When later Jesus taught us to pray:
"lead us not in temptation but deliver us from evil". We know He knew what it is to be tempted. He knew why we have to ask God to save us from evil when such a prayer is the only thing we have left. Jesus knew evil "face-to-face". And that is why we don't have to be terrified.
If you know someone who is very sad, pray for them. If you see hungry faces on TV, pray. When you hear about terrorism and the killing of innocent people, pray! Maybe, one day, God will allow these people to tell us what it was like. But now we pray for them, because Jesus, God's own Son, went through such a time of pain and suffering. Remember, Jesus met Satan and resisted him. He discovered for us that God can be relied upon to keep His promises. Jesus, like John, had to discover God’s will for His life, just like Mark the story-teller, just like you and just like me, This moment in the desert was the time He learnt that in His work, no matter what, He could depend on His Father in Heaven. Now, He was ready. He had discovered He could depend on His Father at all times.
I guess John's imprisonment was a temptation for Jesus. Some of His disciples would want to force the issue by organising a militia. But Jesus knew His path. He knew who was to sit on the throne ruling all earthly rulers.
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