Pastor's Ponderings: Meandering through Mark 1:12-13 bible study (August 14, 2023)
Updated: Oct 4
Good morning my dear friends in Christ. May Christ's overflowing love fill you today and always.
A reminder that there will be opportunities to contribute to the disaster on Maui in Hawaii. I would recommend that you use a church where you attend to make these contributions. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which is the national church body to which American is related, you may contribute through their disaster relief funds being confident that 90% of every dollar that you contribute will make it to the place to which you direct it. Three of our members live on the island, but thankfully not in the really bad fire area. However, there are severe shortages on the entire island due to the fire. If you are unable to make a contribution, please fill your prayers with God's comfort and peace in the face of this devastating tragedy. There are other request for your resources too, which you can find on our church website.
In today's bible study of Mark, we find ourselves in the very shortest version of the story of Christ's temptation in the wilderness. In Mark it is covered in two verses. Matthew and Luke both have extended passages Mark 1:12-13, Matthew 4:1-11. Luke 4:1-13. John 0. Though Mark may not include all of the detail and expansive passages on this event in Christ ministry right after His baptism by John in the Jordan River, it is still filled with the power of its words and Christology. The text that I am using uses the translated word thrust for how the Spirit pushed Jesus into the wilderness right after the beginning of His ministry. And, as we might expect from Mark, we are told that this took place immediately. Both of these words indicate the importance of this testing of Jesus. It is critically important that Jesus find the courage, strength, and FAITH to do what God has set before Him. We are all faced with temptations in our lives. A temptation always seems to be the easier way to go in life, yet as people of faith, as was Jesus, we also have come to understand that a temptation, or testing of our faith, is meant for good! It is not meant for us to fall. It is often in the most difficult times of our lives that we are tempted to dessert the ONE at whom we may be angry or frustrated, yet to do so would mean leaving the source of Light that gives us the courage to say no, and to instead turn to the LORD for help, asking for increasing faith and relying on God's always present faith, Christ's important gift for our living and dying.
Here we are also told that Jesus was driven into the wilderness for 40 days. This is the same amount of time that we are told Moses stayed on Mt. Sinai, or that Elijah was strengthened for 40 days of his prophetic ministry by the food that the angel gave him. For Hebrews, forty days became the term which meant an extended period of time. We really have no way of knowing exactly how long any of these experiences lasted.
So, who is it who throws temptations in front of us? God may challenge us, but it is the Evil one who tempts us to leave our Lord who has both created and loves us beyond measure. The Bible uses the name Satan for the one who does this. Originally in the Bible the name describing anyone who was an adversary was designated as Satan. David is seen as the Satan of the Philistine, and probably was seen that way by King Saul too. The task of the Satan was to say everything that could be said to tear a person down. In the Old Testament Satan is seen as an emissary of God, but there is between the testaments a change that then sees Satan in the New Testament as the malignant, supreme enemy of God. Perhaps some of this thinking found its beginning in the exile of the Jews in Persia. The Persians saw the universe as being divided between light and dark, good and bad. And in that, a person must chose his aide in the cosmic battle between the two. By the time of Jesus, the Satan, was seen as the essence of everything that is against the LORD. So in this brief passage from Mark (and also in Matthew and Luke) we find Jesus tempted by the Satan to act against God's wishes, to have a life of comfort and to forget the need for all people to find forgiveness and Grace through Him before God. God's call on His life is that He takes God's love to people, and to love God's children with every fiber and breath of who He is even to His own death, the ultimate act of God's love.
In this short passage we also find that the beasts were Christ's companions. This hearkens to the prophet Hosea who said "The wolf shall lie down with the lamb... Perhaps this was the way of the LORD of all things to restore for Christ the reality of the Garden of Eden. It was in these animals that Christ could find physical comfort. You and I can hardly imagine what it might be like to be cradled by an elephants trunk, or to lie against the warm side of a lion in the need of the cold of the night. I think that sometimes we get a small foretaste of that in the pets who we cherish in our lives. All three of these Synoptic Gospels who tell us the story of Christ's temptation, tell us that the angels also ministered to Jesus. When any of us are in the midst of being tempted we need to know that our God has not deserted us. With Christ continually being pressed by the Satan to choose other than God's way, the ministrations of the angels would have brought Christ great comfort and the strength to resist. When the times get too tough, look for the help of Christ's Spirit, and the presence of the ministering angels to be with us too.
I will be back with you tomorrow morning to move forward into chapter 1:14,15. God richest blessings for you today.
In Christ, Pastor Kim.