The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 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 desert, 13 and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
When the Going Gets Tough
When I said that Mark was fast and furious, you can see that I wasn’t kidding! Here we find two incredibly pivotal events, the baptism and the temptation, placed right up next to one another in no more than 4 verses. The other gospels take much more time to treat each of these events because of their theological importance.
But there is a benefit to reading these two accounts in sequence like this, and it hinges off that word “At once” in verse 12. Mark often uses the word “immediately” or “at once” in his gospel to show immediate action and response. And this is one of those moments – Jesus’ official ministry begins with an incredible show of intimacy and anointing and power – I mean, God audibly speaks from heaven to his Son! After a start like that, it seems like Jesus’ ministry is going to get off on a great start, that it will all be smooth sailing…but “at once”, the Spirit then leads him into the wilderness, where he faces danger, hardship, and persecution on a very intense level.
This is a good lesson for us to learn as well. We assume that our “spiritual highs” will translate into “easy, good and fun times” in our lives, and are shocked when after a great experience with God, we get into fights with family or roommates or some other kind of setback. But God doesn’t pour out his Spirit on us so we can coast, but so that we can run, so we can persevere through difficult situations. God’s will for us is not to give us a couch to lounge on…but to help us run in a way to win the prize.
Also, we musn’t forget the tactics of the enemy. When we are doing terribly spiritually, Satan just leaves us alone – after all, we seem to be doing a great job at doing terribly. But it is when we grow and are climbing out of the pit that Satan pounces, throws difficult situations and temptations at you. So if you sense the enemy throwing these kinds of obstacles in your direction, praise God! That means that Satan is feeling threatened by your growth and wants to nip it in the bud. But remember the authority you have in Christ, that Satan can take nothing away that God has given you.
1. Have you ever had an experience like this, where a tremendous spiritual experience was followed by a terribly difficult season of life?
2. What forms do Satan’s temptations take in your life? A recurring sin or attitude that you slip into? A negative thought about someone else, or about yourself? Remember your authority – how do you think you can put a stop to these temptations?
3. You’ll notice that it is his Father’s affirmation and love that carries Jesus into the desert – when have you felt the Father’s love most powerfully in your life? What are ways in which you remind yourself of that love?
4. In the desert, it is angels who minister to Jesus in his time of need…who are your “angels”, the people who strengthen, encourage, and even sustain you during difficult times? Are you an angel to anyone else?