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Wilderness Experiences – Mark 1:9-13

Read Mark 1:9-13

Some time I ago, I was amused to read of a visit made to America by Queen Elizabeth II. Phillip Yancey, in his book The Jesus I Never Knew, wrote vividly regarding the details of her traveling entourage, which included 4000 pounds of luggage, two outfits for every occasion, 40 pints of plasma, white leather toilet seat covers, her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. Estimates were that her visit cost somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000,000. The Queen doesn’t travel like most everyone else. But Jesus did. His time on earth would not be exempt from wilderness experiences and harsh realities. He would not face these things alone, though.

Messiah means “Anointed One.” Jesus Himself experiences the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He hears God tell Him who He is – He is God’s beloved Son with whom God is well pleased. What a moment! A veil is pulled back for Jesus – the heavens are torn open – He sees a visible manifestation of the Spirit descending upon Him, and hears the voice of God.

In a flash, we then find Him in a wilderness subjected to 40 days of temptation at the hands of Satan himself. In a span of a few verses, Jesus hears the voice of God and the voice of Satan. For 40 days, Satan will relentlessly challenge Jesus about what His Father had declared over Him. (For a more detailed account of what transpired between Jesus and Satan in the wilderness, read Matthew 4 or Luke 4). Was He really God’s Son? Could God – His will for Jesus and the path He was to follow – really be trusted?

Experiencing God’s blessing did not exempt Jesus from the wilderness. God’s affection for us and “wilderness experiences” can co-exist in our lives. The presence of one does not mean the absence of the other. Jesus wasn’t left in the wilderness alone, though. He had the Spirit upon Him and angels around Him. His followers do, too.

Wilderness experiences and temptation so often follow times of personal dedication to the Lord and renewal. The enemy won’t let us go without a fight. But it’s the fight that actually deepens and prepares us for difference-making down the road in the lives of others. The Hebrew writer (Hebrews 5:8) would later say that Jesus was perfected as a priest through His suffering. If not even Jesus could avoid being perfected through time in the wilderness, what makes us think we can?

Grace and Peace,

Chris Seidman


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