MAIN TEXT: MARK 1:9-13
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven,“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.
In the gospel of Mark, Mark tells us about Jesus – the hero of the Bible and our faith. The Bible is all about Jesus. The Gospel according to Mark is one of four accounts of the life of Jesus Christ while here on earth.
Mark is the shortest of all the Gospels. It moves fast. It does not include the genealogy of Jesus, His birth, the Sermon on the Mount, or many parables. This Gospel account does not focus much on what Jesus said, but rather what Jesus did and who He was. Mark 8:27-30 is a key point of the Gospel. “Who do you say that I am?” This is what Mark was getting at and the point that he wanted the Romans to answer.
Having titled Jesus Christ the Son of God, Mark portrays Jesus as the Servant-King who fights God’s enemies on behalf of God’s people. Wasting no time, we are shown the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. Our text seems to magnify the fact that God’s ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9; Romans 12:2). His ministry does not begin in the bustle of a city, but rather in a rugged wasteland of the Judean wilderness. Rather than a press conference there is a baptism. Rather than a parade and feast there is a 40-day solitude fast in a desolate and dangerous wilderness, being tempted by the archenemy of God.
What do we learn from these two critical events of the life of Jesus?
The baptism of Jesus was a declaration of Sonship
We know from Matthew’s Gospel that John the Baptist was opposed to baptizing Jesus (Matthew 3:14). Jesus insisted that it must take place (Matthew 3:15). It is odd that Jesus was baptized, but no more strange than for Him to hang on a cross as the sinless and spotless Son of God. Jesus begins His humiliation as He submits to the Father’s will and willingly identifies Himself with sinful humanity. His life of perfect obedience is “to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). Here are some additional points from our text. The baptism of Jesus:
Inaugurated His Public Ministry (Mark1:9)
Jesus is in His early thirties. He is from obscure Nazareth. From the world’s perspective He was a nobody from nowhere. His coming to John signaled that the time had come for the Servant King to take a public stage. His ministry would last only three years.
Identified Him with Sinful Humanity (Mark 1:9)
Jesus does not need to repent nor confess sin because He had no sin (2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrew 4:15). He is baptized to align Himself with those He came to save. He didn’t set Himself apart from our sins.
Associated Him with John’s ministry (Mark 1:9)
Jesus does not hesitate to align Himself with John the Baptist regarding the fulfillment of prophecy and His message of repentance.
Demonstrated His Father’s Approval (Mark 1:10)
Jesus sees the Holy Spirit descend upon as He “saw the heavens being torn open”. This “tearing” in Mark is linked to the tearing of the curtain from top to bottom at Christ’s crucifixion (Mark 15:38). At His baptism and His crucifixion the Father supernaturally intervenes declaring that Jesus is the Son of God. This was God’s approval.
Revealed the Triune God (Mark 1:9-11)
We clearly see the trinity in Jesus’ baptism. The Son is baptized, the Father speaks, and the Spirit descends. This gives us a glimpse into the nature of our God.
Showed His Total Dependence on the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:10)
The Spirit was promised on the Messiah (Isaiah 42:1). He is now equipped and empowered for His Suffering Servant ministry. The Spirit anointed the human nature of Jesus. We tend to think that Jesus performed His miracles in His divine nature. He actually performed them in His human nature through the power of the Holy Spirit given to Him at baptism.
Declared the Type of Messiah He Would be (Mark 1:11)
The declaration of the Father’s love is also spoken again at Jesus’ transfiguration (Mark 9:7). No prophet ever heard these words. Jesus supersedes all those who came before and will come after. He is the Perfect King who will succeed where they each failed. This declaration along with Jesus’ life, ministry, miracles, and resurrection make His deity undeniable.
The temptation of Jesus was a declaration of war
Now empowered and equipped, Jesus isn’t lead to do miracles or preach, but to be tested. Will Jesus “trust and obey” the will of the Father? The battle begins here but will rage all the way to the cross and an empty tomb. In Scripture, Christ is considered the “Second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15). Jesus will be tempted like the “First Adam” and exposed to Satan’s assaults. There are great differences between the circumstances and conditions of the temptation Adam and Eve and the temptation of Jesus. The results are drastically different as well – Jesus withstood everything that Satan had to throw at Him.
Jesus was submissive to the Spirit (Mark 1:12)
Thankfully Jesus yields to the Holy Spirit and embraces this test. Rather than failing, He turns back the enemy and provides hope and a pattern for us to do the same.
Jesus was engaged by Satan (Mark 1:13)
This meeting in the desert was especially difficult. The contrast of Adam and Eve’s temptation and Jesus’ is great: lush garden vs. desolate wilderness; every food imaginable and ravaged by hunger; intimate companionship vs. absolutely alone; safety and shalom vs. wild animal. In this lonely and supremely weakened state the prince of hell came to Him.
The other Gospels show that the actual temptation and conversations are very paralleled to the first temptation. Satan’s goal was to get Jesus not to suffer – His suffering would mean Satan’s doom and destruction and it means salvation for you and me! We should take great encouragement from this. Christ knows what we are going through (Hebrews 4:15-16). God’s will is not always safe – there are often unexpected twists and turns - but it is always best!
Jesus, our Servant King!
APPLY TO LIFE
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Why do you think God chooses the wilderness as the place to communicate with His children?
Mark mentions the temptations only briefly, but emphasises four things: the role of the Spirit, the inhospitability of the environment, the strategy of Satan and the supernatural ministry Jesus received from angels. Relate this to your Christian experience in the light of Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Peter 5:8-9 and Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16.