Not Alone in the Wilderness

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.” Mark 1:12,14 ESV

Mark is considered the oldest gospel. It is the shortest. Mark is all about action. He gets to the point. He writes to a Roman audience that did not have some of the concerns about the heritage of the Messiah and how Christ fulfilled what was written in the law and the prophets.

As a result, Mark gives three sentences to Jesus temptation in the wilderness. When I look at these verses and phrases, there are some things about the “wilderness” that stand out.

1 – The Holy Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness. Wilderness experiences are not a calling card. Unless you hope to make a name and money for yourself as a modern day reality TV star. While Jesus was tempted by Satan while He was in the wilderness, He was there by the leading of the Holy Spirit. We don’t always know why, but wilderness experiences in our life are often in the will of God. It can draw us closer to the Lord and reveal our dependency upon Him.

2 – He was in the wilderness 40 days. We can certainly see the significance of the time period of 40 days in the Bible. The rain came upon Noah and the ark for 40 days. The Children of Israel were 40 years in in the desert. This number is often associated with testing or judgment. But what is important is to see that the number of days in the wilderness is limited. It is not a home, it is not a resting place, it is just what we often need to experience and endure.

3 – He was tempted by Satan. Wilderness experiences can be times of testing and temptation. They can reveal to us as much about ourselves, as anything else. It is in those times that there is the opportunity for our faith to emerge as gold.

Peter writes about trials and says, “These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7 NIV)

4 – He was with wild animals. This is something that Mark alone makes reference to. The wilderness can be challenging enough as it is, but the dangers that are present can come from different sources. I am reminded of the words of John, “For everything in the world–the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world.” (1 John 2:16 NIV) It can be a “dangerous world out there” proceed with caution.

5 – Angels were ministering to Him. When you feel alone, it is important to understand that you are not alone. Scripture is true when it says, “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways…” (Psalm 91:11 NIV) We can trust the Lord to sustain us, even in our “darkest” and most lonely hour.

Jesus emerged from the wilderness, focused on His call. He preaches, calls disciples to follow and begins to perform miracles. There is not just life after the wilderness, there is purpose and fulfillment.

Prayer for today…. Lord, thank You for the reminder that You are with us, working on our behalf, even in the most challenging places. Thank you that those times do come to an end, and we can emerge with fresh confidence in You and Your work in and through us.