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First Sunday of Lent. The reading is from Gospel of Mark 1:12-15.

Almost every one of us expect to be tempted at times by some object, person, fortune and what not. Even withdrawal into solitude will not guard us from temptations. Isolation has its charms but the temptation will follow us wherever we go. Not only the worldly inclined even holiest persons have dreadful thoughts and lewd temptations. Even Jesus was led into the wilderness, and was tempted by Satan.

An angel ministers to Jesus after his temptation
— Matthew 4: 1-11; Mark 1: 12, 13; Luke 4: 1-13.

The Temptation of Jesus – Mark 1:12-13

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts,
and the angels ministered to him.

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry – Mark 1:14-15

After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.

In the narrative of the temptaion of Jesus, the same Spirit who descended on Jesus in his baptism now drives him into the desert for forty days. The result is radical confrontation and temptation by Satan who attempts to frustrate the work of God.

The presence of wild beasts may indicate the horror and danger of the desert regarded as the abode of demons or may reflect the paradise motif of harmony among all creatures in Isaiah:

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; The calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them.


The cow and the bear shall graze, together their young shall lie down; the lion shall eat hay like the ox.

The baby shall play by the viper’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair.

They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. (Isaiah 11:6–9)

The presence of ministering angels to sustain Jesus recalls the angel who guided the Israelites in the desert in the first Exodus

The angel of God, who had been leading Israel’s army, now moved and went around behind them. And the column of cloud, moving from in front of them, took up its place behind them, (Exodus 14:19)

See, I am sending an angel before you, to guard you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. (Exodus 23:20)

and the angel who supplied nourishment to Elijah in the wilderness

He lay down and fell asleep under the solitary broom tree, but suddenly a messenger touched him and said, “Get up and eat!”

He looked and there at his head was a hearth cake and a jug of water. After he ate and drank, he lay down again, but the angel of the LORD came back a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat or the journey will be too much for you!” (1 Kings 19:5–7).

 

The combined forces of good and evil were present to Jesus in the desert. His sustained obedience brings forth the new Israel of God there where Israel’s rebellion had brought death and alienation.

In the Marcan account, scene of the major part of Jesus’ public ministry before his arrest and condemnation takes place in Galilee. In the plan of God, Jesus was not to proclaim the good news of salvation prior to the termination of John the Baptist’s active mission.

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