Immediately follow his baptism, Jesus was driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. Alone, Jesus faced hunger and fatigue for forty days while facing temptation by Satan. Mark’s account of Jesus’ testing is much different than that of Matthew or Luke; he doesn’t provide great detail. We don’t read in Mark of Satan suggesting Jesus bring forth bread from stone. There is no encounter at the pinnacle of the temple and no request for Jesus to bow down and worship Satan. Mark simply tells us Jesus faced temptation.
What’s even more intriguing in this account is that, even as Matthew and Luke report that the devil departed from Jesus until an opportune time, Mark makes no such statement. In Mark’s gospel, it seems Satan does not depart from Jesus; rather, he follows the one called to save God’s people as he goes into the world. Mark seems to be telling the church that Jesus faced temptation throughout his ministry. It makes sense that Satan would want to prevent Jesus from reaching the destination of the cross. The cross means victory for Jesus and defeat for all the powers that defy God.
Certainly, Christians face temptation each and every day. There is not an instance when Satan is scheming or plotting against the people of God attempting to side track their faith and cause them to stumble. In the wilderness of the world, humans must contend with fear, doubt, selfishness, hate, envy and a slew of other snares set by the one who is beset against the purposes of God.
Jesus faced temptation, remained faithful and offered himself as the true paschal lamb for the sake of humanity. Even as we cannot do the same, God has provided the means for his people to win the victory over death. To those who call upon Christ, God provides opportunity for confession. He forgives our sin and gives us the power to repent, to turn away from sin and strive to live according to God’s desires. Even as we fall short, by God’s grace through faith in Christ Jesus, those who believe and are baptized are saved. While Satan follows the people of God throughout their earthly journey, even more so does God’s Holy Spirit guard and protect the faithful.
People of God, you are not alone in the wilderness; Christ is with you. Receive the strength of our Lord and Savior to face temptation and remain faithful. Call upon the Lord and he will come to you with his grace and mercy.