Saturday, 7 March 2009
Lent 1 Temptation
Mark gives us a shorthand description of the baptism of Jesus and his testing in the wilderness.
v9. John, calls out Israel to gather at the water's edge in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. From Nazareth in Galilee, a place of lawless Judaism, secularized, syncretized, comes a true Israelite. He comes to John by the river Jordan. he undertakes a rite of turning away/repentance
v10-11. The Exodus theme continues-As Israel gathered before Mt. Sinai, so God speaks. In Jesus, the new Israel, represented by the dove, will be built in the power of God's Spirit.
v12-13. A cosmic struggle between Satan and God. Jesus is driven into the wilderness and there, like Israel of old, is tested. Jesus was "with the wild animals." The wilderness is Satan's realm, a place of horror, loneliness, where wild beasts roam. Jesus must struggle through the darkness to the promised land. As angels ministered to Elijah during his forty days in the wilderness, so they minister to Jesus. For Mark, Jesus' wilderness struggle is but a foretaste of the coming three years which will involve an unending assault from demonic forces. As Jesus is sustained and affirmed in the wilderness, so he is sustained through the wilderness of his ministry. The people of God, also are tested like Jesus.
Lent is a replay of Elijah's and Jesus' wilderness experience. It is about repentance. On Ash Wednesday we hear the words "turn away from sin. we must turn to God. Repentance involves turning away from self to Jesus. Lent is about refocusing on Jesus.
There is a wilderness in our lives. When things go wrong the loneliness of wilderness is close to us. We sense beasts. we first need to accept the call of the wilderness and face the darkness. We have to return to the desert and we will experience Satan.
The powers of darkness will test our faith. But we are not alone. Angels will be with us.