Into the Wild
PRAY: Humbly ask God to give you wisdom to understand this portion of the Bible and the faith to live out what He reveals to you.
Have you ever been lost in the woods? If not, maybe you’ve had a flat-tire and were left stranded in the middle of no-where. If either scenario is familiar, then you have some idea what the ‘wilderness’ is like. The Gospel according to Mark is thematically weaved with wilderness settings and the most resonant examples are found throughout the first chapter.
In verse three, there is a voice crying out from the wilderness, by one who will prepare the way for the coming Messiah. In verses 4-8, John is in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance. And here in verse twelve, Jesus enters the wilderness where he stays for forty days and is tempted by Satan.
Many of the wilderness themes are parallel to events in the Old Testament. For instance, in the Old Testament, repentance and faith were closely linked with the wilderness. It was Israel wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years, before Israel arrived in the Promised Land.
The prophet Isaiah describes Israel’s trek in the wilderness as a march under the guidance of Holy Spirit (Isa. 63:11). This same Spirit is the one who descended upon Jesus at his baptism, and who immediately led him into the wilderness where he was tempted. (Mark 1:12).
The accounts in Matthew and Luke give us a window into this epic show-down between Jesus and Satan. Jesus was tempted to…
- Break his fast and turn rocks into bread (Matt 4:3).
- Prove his deity by jumping off a mountain (Luke 4:9-10).
- Receive earthly authority to rule the world if he would just worship Satan (Matt 4:8-9).
Jesus remained steadfast. He never surrendered to Satan’s bidding, never sinned, and remained faithful to God while in the wilderness.
How about you? Do you find yourself in some kind of wilderness? Tempted. Tired. Alone. For every Christian, after we have been baptized into the death of Christ upon conversion, so too does the Spirit lead us into the wilderness of conflict (Rom 6:3-4). This wilderness experience overflows into our lives as well, and that might not be a bad thing. Following Jesus interferes with your life.
It would be foolish to try and fight Satan in our own feeble strength because frankly, our flesh loves to sin. However, you and I do that too often! We need the power of the Holy Spirit surging through us, to fight temptation and follow Jesus into the world today. If the Spirit drove Jesus from His baptism into wilderness conflict with Satan, then don’t be surprised when He does similarly with you. Yes, Satan is real. Yes, you will be tempted. And just as Jesus fights against Satanic forces his entire life, so too are you and I called to resist temptation through the power of the Spirit and the devil will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Be ready. Be vigilant. Be on guard and trust God at His word; “for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)
- Jesus quoted scripture to combat Satan’s temptation. What can the Word of God do to fight against your sinful desires?
- Do you find yourself in a wilderness right now? What kind? Is that necessarily a bad thing? (A position in the uncomfortable wilderness can indicate we are being led by the Spirit. If you feel comfortable and unchallenged by Satan, what might that indicate about your relationship with God?
- How are you being tempted most recently? (Lust, fear, doubt, arrogance, greed, rage, selfishness, giving up altogether etc.) Temptation and wilderness times are inevitable. What can we do to prepare for this inevitable conflict?
Memorize: 1 John 4:4
This week's devotional is written by Zach Jones. Zach is an FSU student and City Church Owner apprenticing to be a college City Group Leader.