10.22.08, Mark 1:9-13

Posted on October 22, 2008


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.

Questions:

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?

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Posted in: Uncategorized
9 Responses “10.22.08, Mark 1:9-13” →
  1. God’s promised that we will not be tempted beyond our strength so is God directly tempting us or does God allow satan to tempt us to a point like when he allowed satan to kill Job’s family gave him boils etc.?

  2. #2
    negative thoughts about other people
    -> See them as God sees them
    negative thoughts about about myself
    -> Find my identity in God
    -> Remember God’s amazing grace
    -> Be grateful for who I am now
    -> Remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God

    Question:
    this might be a really basic question…but if John the Baptist was baptizing people for the forgiveness of their sins in preparation for Christ’s coming, why was Jesus baptized by him also? In Matthew 3:15, Jesus says “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” when John asks the same question.. but I’m still not sure what that means.


  3. peterwchin

    October 23, 2008

    the baptism of Christ has several layers of significance, even though Christ did not NEED the baptism per se. the first understanding is that because john the baptist was God’s messenger, it gave continuity to the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, that the two were actually a SINGLE movement of God, not separate ones. in this way, you could kind of see Christ’s baptism as a type of inauguration?

    also, the baptism of Christ affirms the full humanity of Jesus, that he didn’t just look like a man, but was fully a man. it helps to identify Jesus’ incarnation, and helps us remember how low he stooped to save us…this is a big part of the idea of atonement.

    and there was something incredibly powerful that happened at that moment: the heavens open up and we see God in triune form: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! amazing…


  4. chomomma

    October 24, 2008

    2. Before starting off on the question, I would like to also comment on George’s question.

    I am writing this on a whim, without any preparation or thorough thought development, so please bear with me (and my frequent incoherencies)

    I brought this question up in my SG not too long ago. Does God let Satan tempt us… or does God bring us the temptation to test us? And does God always know our limits and have full control over what we each can handle?
    I’ve heard of Christians lost and hurting who seek His Presence and His help that end up sinking so low they perish. They let the sin that God allowed in or allowed Satan to hold control of to destroy them. Sometimes, hearing about this only strengthens my belief there is a fight between Heaven and Hell, between God and Satan, between the Angels and Demons… that Good has not overcome Evil. Some people succumb to Satan if they are not strong enough while others persevere to make it to God. I know many of my Catholic friends believe in all the stories about Angels and Demons (not to be confused by the book), and sometimes when I look around me… its hard not to take it in somewhat also. From the Bible’s perspective and much of what I hear from the ministries I’ve been a part of it is said that God trumps all… even Satan. I’ve heard that he is a fallen Angel of God. I’m a believer of the zero sum game, that for every good there is a bad, for every servant of the Lord there is a (unknowing) servant of Satan. I believe God is fighting for all our souls, each and every one from the grasps of Satan. I believe Jesus was sent to provide us with our salvation, so that we are more impervious to Satan’s will and closer to God’s love. We are saved from our sins… because it is in Satan’s delight that we let our sins fester within us and let our hearts rot. Through God, though we may sin, our sins are freed through Jesus’s blood that way may continue to serve and love with the fullness of our hearts (an imagery that comes to mind is our hearts being a piece of wood holding us up… Jesus being the sealant that keeps the water(sin) from penetrating into our core… if Jesus leaves, the water will be free to seep in and settle into the core, deteriorating the wood to the point where it crumbles and the rest of us collapses).

    A long rant…. but what is your take on Satan’s freedom and/or power in our world? Can God truly know our limits and protect us when sin is beyond our strength? or are we caught in a war between Good and Evil? or have I watched too many movies about Angels?


  5. Dongwoon Hyun

    October 24, 2008

    Continuing on what George has said, isn’t the saying that “God will never test us beyond our limit” kind of a misleading statement? Isn’t it those who permanently turn from Christianity or those who commit suicide or do other things the ones who DID get tested beyond their limit? Or is it that since they are no longer Christian, and they are not considered in the saying? We often say that Christians that turn to another religion “apparently never really were Christians in the first place.” Doesn’t that create a win-win situation?


  6. winniechoi

    October 24, 2008

    it’ says “at once the spirit sent him out into the desert” after “spirit descending on Him like a dove”. Is it the Holy Spirit that moved Jesus’ heart to voluntarily go to the desert to be tempted and persecuted? If so, did Jesus know what to expect at the desert?
    I always thought Jesus already knew that He was supposed to go to the desert after baptism for some reason..

    What is the significance of dove. Why is descending of Holy Spirit described as flying of dove as opposed to other birds or things?


  7. peterwchin

    October 24, 2008

    the God and Satan question is a tricky one. i think the main principle under which i operate is that Satan think that he’s God’s equal and enemy…but God uses Satan as his tool. Satan is actively at work, tempting, stumbling, oppressing, thinking that he can derail us. but God allows these actions at times to refine us and make us stronger. and while allowing these actions, there is the blood of Christ, a guarantee that these temptations can never overwhelm us…

    unless we choose to let them overwhelm us. free will is the final component of this situation, that as Satan works, and God redeems, we make a choice as to which of those is ultimately true for us. and the choice we make, that interpretation, will dictate our actions.

    so if someone does fall away, i would say that they weren’t tempted beyond their means, but that they misperceived that they could take no more. for instance, let’s say someone is running the mile and gets winded after 10 feet, that they feel pain and want to quit. if they quit, you could say that the mile was too much for them. but i would think that it is not that could not run further, but that they THOUGHT they could run no further…and there is a big difference between the two, right? and so there is a big difference between God tempting us beyond what we can take, and our misperception that this is more than we can take and giving up.

    with God, the assurance is that there is no race that we cannot finish, not with the divine power and authority and love that accompany us. the question is whether we live with that assurance in our hearts and persevere, or we forget it and focus instead on the lies of the enemy, and give up well before we ever really have to.


  8. chomomma

    October 27, 2008

    I know this is a belated response… but what about if we perceive that we could run more and we do try with everything only to pass away out of exhaustion? Are we mislead then to think that God would not let us exceed our limits, but instead he does and we see ourselves fail?

  9. I want to comment on the things that George and Eric and others have brought up because I often pondered this. The one thing I dislike, though, are hypothetical situations that assume much and aren’t a part of our current reality.

    We have no way of ever knowing if there was “more” that could be done in those we think have “failed”. You can throw as many what ifs but that fact remains. Job went through a lot and in the end, he was even honest and challenged God, but God knew his heart and what he was trying to teach Job. A big point about the book of Job is that God is also a mysterious God (note: not erratic), and as much as we try to make it a math equation, He will often do things in ways we do not comprehend. That sounds like a cop-out but that is truth.

    You take 10 people and give them the exact same hardship and they will all respond in different ways. What makes one person turn to God and another reject Him? I think the question being asked should not be if God will ever tempt us beyond our limit, but do we believe that our God is good? This is something I think everyone has to evaluate for themselves, and personally, I have to believe that God will never tempted me beyond some hypothetical limit, and if it ever seems that way, his Spirit will intercede on my behalf.

10.22.08, Mark 1:9-13

Posted on October 22, 2008


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.

Questions:

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?

Posted in: Uncategorized
9 Responses “10.22.08, Mark 1:9-13” →
  1. God’s promised that we will not be tempted beyond our strength so is God directly tempting us or does God allow satan to tempt us to a point like when he allowed satan to kill Job’s family gave him boils etc.?

  2. #2
    negative thoughts about other people
    -> See them as God sees them
    negative thoughts about about myself
    -> Find my identity in God
    -> Remember God’s amazing grace
    -> Be grateful for who I am now
    -> Remember that I am fearfully and wonderfully made by God

    Question:
    this might be a really basic question…but if John the Baptist was baptizing people for the forgiveness of their sins in preparation for Christ’s coming, why was Jesus baptized by him also? In Matthew 3:15, Jesus says “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” when John asks the same question.. but I’m still not sure what that means.


  3. peterwchin

    October 23, 2008

    the baptism of Christ has several layers of significance, even though Christ did not NEED the baptism per se. the first understanding is that because john the baptist was God’s messenger, it gave continuity to the ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus, that the two were actually a SINGLE movement of God, not separate ones. in this way, you could kind of see Christ’s baptism as a type of inauguration?

    also, the baptism of Christ affirms the full humanity of Jesus, that he didn’t just look like a man, but was fully a man. it helps to identify Jesus’ incarnation, and helps us remember how low he stooped to save us…this is a big part of the idea of atonement.

    and there was something incredibly powerful that happened at that moment: the heavens open up and we see God in triune form: Father, Son and Holy Spirit! amazing…


  4. chomomma

    October 24, 2008

    2. Before starting off on the question, I would like to also comment on George’s question.

    I am writing this on a whim, without any preparation or thorough thought development, so please bear with me (and my frequent incoherencies)

    I brought this question up in my SG not too long ago. Does God let Satan tempt us… or does God bring us the temptation to test us? And does God always know our limits and have full control over what we each can handle?
    I’ve heard of Christians lost and hurting who seek His Presence and His help that end up sinking so low they perish. They let the sin that God allowed in or allowed Satan to hold control of to destroy them. Sometimes, hearing about this only strengthens my belief there is a fight between Heaven and Hell, between God and Satan, between the Angels and Demons… that Good has not overcome Evil. Some people succumb to Satan if they are not strong enough while others persevere to make it to God. I know many of my Catholic friends believe in all the stories about Angels and Demons (not to be confused by the book), and sometimes when I look around me… its hard not to take it in somewhat also. From the Bible’s perspective and much of what I hear from the ministries I’ve been a part of it is said that God trumps all… even Satan. I’ve heard that he is a fallen Angel of God. I’m a believer of the zero sum game, that for every good there is a bad, for every servant of the Lord there is a (unknowing) servant of Satan. I believe God is fighting for all our souls, each and every one from the grasps of Satan. I believe Jesus was sent to provide us with our salvation, so that we are more impervious to Satan’s will and closer to God’s love. We are saved from our sins… because it is in Satan’s delight that we let our sins fester within us and let our hearts rot. Through God, though we may sin, our sins are freed through Jesus’s blood that way may continue to serve and love with the fullness of our hearts (an imagery that comes to mind is our hearts being a piece of wood holding us up… Jesus being the sealant that keeps the water(sin) from penetrating into our core… if Jesus leaves, the water will be free to seep in and settle into the core, deteriorating the wood to the point where it crumbles and the rest of us collapses).

    A long rant…. but what is your take on Satan’s freedom and/or power in our world? Can God truly know our limits and protect us when sin is beyond our strength? or are we caught in a war between Good and Evil? or have I watched too many movies about Angels?


  5. Dongwoon Hyun

    October 24, 2008

    Continuing on what George has said, isn’t the saying that “God will never test us beyond our limit” kind of a misleading statement? Isn’t it those who permanently turn from Christianity or those who commit suicide or do other things the ones who DID get tested beyond their limit? Or is it that since they are no longer Christian, and they are not considered in the saying? We often say that Christians that turn to another religion “apparently never really were Christians in the first place.” Doesn’t that create a win-win situation?


  6. winniechoi

    October 24, 2008

    it’ says “at once the spirit sent him out into the desert” after “spirit descending on Him like a dove”. Is it the Holy Spirit that moved Jesus’ heart to voluntarily go to the desert to be tempted and persecuted? If so, did Jesus know what to expect at the desert?
    I always thought Jesus already knew that He was supposed to go to the desert after baptism for some reason..

    What is the significance of dove. Why is descending of Holy Spirit described as flying of dove as opposed to other birds or things?


  7. peterwchin

    October 24, 2008

    the God and Satan question is a tricky one. i think the main principle under which i operate is that Satan think that he’s God’s equal and enemy…but God uses Satan as his tool. Satan is actively at work, tempting, stumbling, oppressing, thinking that he can derail us. but God allows these actions at times to refine us and make us stronger. and while allowing these actions, there is the blood of Christ, a guarantee that these temptations can never overwhelm us…

    unless we choose to let them overwhelm us. free will is the final component of this situation, that as Satan works, and God redeems, we make a choice as to which of those is ultimately true for us. and the choice we make, that interpretation, will dictate our actions.

    so if someone does fall away, i would say that they weren’t tempted beyond their means, but that they misperceived that they could take no more. for instance, let’s say someone is running the mile and gets winded after 10 feet, that they feel pain and want to quit. if they quit, you could say that the mile was too much for them. but i would think that it is not that could not run further, but that they THOUGHT they could run no further…and there is a big difference between the two, right? and so there is a big difference between God tempting us beyond what we can take, and our misperception that this is more than we can take and giving up.

    with God, the assurance is that there is no race that we cannot finish, not with the divine power and authority and love that accompany us. the question is whether we live with that assurance in our hearts and persevere, or we forget it and focus instead on the lies of the enemy, and give up well before we ever really have to.


  8. chomomma

    October 27, 2008

    I know this is a belated response… but what about if we perceive that we could run more and we do try with everything only to pass away out of exhaustion? Are we mislead then to think that God would not let us exceed our limits, but instead he does and we see ourselves fail?

  9. I want to comment on the things that George and Eric and others have brought up because I often pondered this. The one thing I dislike, though, are hypothetical situations that assume much and aren’t a part of our current reality.

    We have no way of ever knowing if there was “more” that could be done in those we think have “failed”. You can throw as many what ifs but that fact remains. Job went through a lot and in the end, he was even honest and challenged God, but God knew his heart and what he was trying to teach Job. A big point about the book of Job is that God is also a mysterious God (note: not erratic), and as much as we try to make it a math equation, He will often do things in ways we do not comprehend. That sounds like a cop-out but that is truth.

    You take 10 people and give them the exact same hardship and they will all respond in different ways. What makes one person turn to God and another reject Him? I think the question being asked should not be if God will ever tempt us beyond our limit, but do we believe that our God is good? This is something I think everyone has to evaluate for themselves, and personally, I have to believe that God will never tempted me beyond some hypothetical limit, and if it ever seems that way, his Spirit will intercede on my behalf.

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