Monday, January 26, 2009

Mark 1:12-13

O God, thou art my God;

Early will I seek thee,

My flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty Land

Where no water is.

Psalm 63:1

Have you considered my servant (your name here)

One moment Y'shua is immersed in the water of the river, the next he is driven to the desert wilderness. Mark 1:12-13 If I were the one writing the story, he would go directly to Jerusalem to show his people, to show even Rome, that he is the way, he is the truth and he is the light. Freshly anointed by the Spirit and with the testimony of the Voice, he has the witness of John the Baptizer and the penitent crowd. He should go straight to Jerusalem and set things right. Doesn't that seem like the next logical step?

...take your stand against the devils schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:11-12

And immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.
Mark 1:12-13 NAS

The battle is not against flesh and blood! Y'shua/Jesus was driven away from John's growing army of repentant souls, away from those who were aware that these were the days of Messiah and were expectantly looking for him. He was immediately impelled walk away from a people ready for a change from what Jerusalem was offering.

If I had written the story, then those who came to the wilderness for the baptism of repentance would have responded like the people of Elijah's day when fire (rather then the Spirit as a dove) came from heaven to consume the sacrifice. At that time the people proclaimed, "The LORD, He is God!" and then slaughtered those who were not on the Lord's side. A great and bloody victory. But it was not written that way. Instead, the same Spirit that descended "like a dove" now drives him from those who came to the river, deeper into the wilderness. Mark doesn't tell us much of that time in the wilderness. Only that it lasted for forty days. Forty days of temptation by old Satan himself, that wild beasts were his companions and that he was ministered to by angels.

I am always struck by the first chapter of Job. It shocks me that it was the voice of God who brought Job to the devils attention, "Have you considered my servant Job?" God is almost issuing a challenge to the devil because God was confident that Job would stand firm. But the devil was equally confident that once the perks were removed, Job would "curse God to His face."

The devil is not like God, he is not omnipresent. At the Jordan stood all these people, immersed in repentance, I should think they would require the attention of the devil. But in the wilderness was the Son of God, the heir to the very throne that Satan coveted. There was no time to lure the repentant back to the darkness; instead the devil would spend his time tempting the Son of God.

The Theology of Charmin My husband makes toilet paper for a living. Toilet paper has to be soft to the touch and able to break down quickly once flushed. At the same time it has to be strong enough (sorry about this. . .) to not let your finger poke through when it is wet. (Hey, I said I was sorry!) This quality is VERY important to consumers. The wet strength of toilet paper is tested at the factory before it is released to the public. Why (I can hear you wonder), am I telling you this? Hang on!

Finding the wet strength of toilet paper is not referred to as a test (in an industry that tests everything). For some reason it is called temptation. Weird, I agree. But there is more. The manufacture of toilet paper expects the product to not fall to temptation, not because of any determination the paper makes, but because it was made to stand the test. The wet strength is tested through temptation but is full expected to glorify (if you will) the name of the manufacturer by resisting the pressure of temptation and passing the test. But wait! There's more! If for some reason the paper fails the wet strength temptation, it is labeled "reprobate." The reprobate paper is not thrown away, it is not incinerated, it is remanufactured and prepared to be tempted again. We are manufactured by a God who is far more merciful then the makers of toilet paper!

The Son of God was tempted in the wilderness He was not found reprobate. He passed the test to the glory of God. But he was also with the wild beasts and ministered to by angels (ministered comes from the same Greek word we translate "deacons")

I have read many theories about why Mark included the detail about the wild beasts, but only one of those satisfies me. Mark wrote his gospel to the church in Rome. Mark was the Apostle Peter's translator in Rome. His Gospel is said to be drawn from his remembrance of Peter's sermons to the Roman Church. In Rome, probably at the time of Mark's writing, Christians were facing wild beasts in the heart of the city at the coliseum games.

Here at the beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, before the account of Pilot's indifference (the Roman official in Jerusalem) to the innocence of Jesus, before the account of the cruel mocking of the Roman soldiers or of how the religious leaders stirred up the citizens to demand crucifixion of the King of kings, before all of that, Mark tells his readers something that will assure them that the Lord knows and has faced their fear. The Son of God received the anointing of the Spirit and the testimony that God was pleased with Him. Then he was sent to the wilderness where, like them, he faced beasts during the days of temptation.

Why me? That is probably the most common question asked when a believer faces the fear of their temptation. I have asked it myself. Why me? I cannot remember ever getting an answer to that question at the time of temptation. I think the reason is because the question has already been answered. Like Job, like Y'shua, I am beloved of God. It is for God's glory that I am tested and not found reprobate.

Temptation must be allowed by God before it can come into our lives. He loves us and has confidence that in the unseen battle we will glorify the Lord, standing firm against the tricks of the devil. Amazing love.

In Rome, believers were thrust into an arena with a savage wild beast, alone but for the blood thirsty spectators. But what we see with physical eyes is not always the whole story. The Lord has gone before us, angels minister to us as to him, and the coliseum?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

Hebrews 12:1-9 NIV

Are you a legitimate child of God? Then prepare to fix your eyes on Jesus when life becomes impossible, and hang on, there's more!

Orginally posted August 14, 2008 on Deb at Shoutlife

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