3/5/06, Lent 1-B

“Wilderness Days”
Mark 1:9-15

The Text

9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan . 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” 12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:9-15, NRSV)

The Story

On the first Sunday in Lent we hear the story of Jesus’ Temptation by Satan for forty days in the desert. Mark’s rendition of the event leaves out a lot of the details that Matthew and Luke leave in the story. However, we have the important matter herein as we hear that Jesus submitted to temptation.

You and I do not have to submit to temptation, hard experiences, pain bereavement and suffering. Bad times are the way of all human beings. Bad stuff happens to everyone. “The rain falls on the just and the unjust just alike.”

Jesus’ temptation followed his baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Jesus was not baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, because he was the only one who was without sin. Jesus’ baptism was the mark of a new phase of his life and ministry. He had left the little town in which he grew up, for some thirty years, and began to initially walk from town to town in the upper regions of Galilee, where he was protected from the Roman occupying troops, and from the religious Rulers of the Jews. Throughout Jesus’ traveling ministry he has his eyes set on eventually to Jerusalem and face the Passion of the Cross.

Some see the temptation in the desert as being a preparation for the Cross. However, as a carpenter and a small businessman dealing daily with customers, Jesus’ had spent his entire life moving toward Calvary.

As an angel who rebelled against God, Satan, the leader of the dark forces, had become an expert in tempting human beings. However, having had a longstanding antithesis relationship with his exact opposite, Satan would win no battles with the Holy Trinity, until they would let evil prevail for a brief time at the culmination of Christ’s human life on earth.

With God on our side we too can win every confrontation with evil. “Greater is He who is in us than him who is in the world.”  

One of the core groups of our ongoing C. S. Lewis Wednesday night study, 7:00, is THE PROBLEM OF PAIN. Lewis wrote it to win people to the Christian Life. However, he does not promise an absence of pain for the believer. Yet, we have the same strength that Jesus had in his Wilderness Days, the presence of His Holy Father, and Jesus had the Angels to care for him. We too can make it through the pain with God’s help.

And also, the next time Wilderness Days of testing come our way, we are experienced and better able to make it through. Likewise we are able to help others with the same kind of help that we have been helped with.

Lent is the most practical time in our Christian Year for we are focusing beyond ourselves, on others. It’s not about us but them. It’s not what we “give up” but what we become. Let Lenten Days begin by taking this Holy Communion seriously.

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
3/5/06, Lent 1-B