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“He Remained In The Wilderness For Forty Days, Tempted By Satan.”

  • International
  • February 26, 2012
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After he had been baptized by John in the Jordan, but before he began his public ministry, Jesus retired into the wilderness to prepare himself for his mission by prayer and fasting.

Mark’s account of the ‘temptations in the desert’ is much shorter than Matthew’s or Luke’s. Apart from saying that Jesus was “among wild beasts”, an allusion to the evil spirits and dangers in the wilderness, Mark does not indicate how Jesus was tempted by Satan. We learn of that from the other Gospels.

The Gospel meaning of ‘temptation’ is trial or testing. Jesus is tested with regard to his mission. He is encouraged by Satan to seek his own pleasure, to prefer power and popularity over suffering, helplessness and reliance on God. Israel was similarly tested during its sojourn in the desert, and failed its tests. Jesus is the new Israel, and he remains steadfast. He embraces his mission, not as a conquering messiah, but as a suffering Servant of Yahweh.

Purified by his testing, Jesus emerges focused and enthusiastic. He begins his public preaching with this challenge to his listeners: “The Kingdom of God is upon you. Repent! Believe the Gospel.” What do these words mean ?

God’s presence is a force within us, a power which creates righteousness, compassion, kindness, peace, all that promotes living in goodness, in short. Where men and women guide themselves by these values, there the “reign of God” is present, and as a spiritual force, it is not limited to this space, that time, this kind of people – it goes beyond.

All of us are invited to ‘turn over a new leaf’ and embrace this reality, which is the Gospel, the “good news” we so earnestly desire.
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