“And he was among the wild beasts” (Mark 1:13)
We are all familiar with the testing of Jesus in the desert in Matthew (Matt. 4:1-11) and Luke (Luke 4:1-13) with its three classic temptations to which Jesus does not succumb. Here in Mark’s version we have a bare bones account with little detail other than that he was in the wilderness for 40 days, was tempted by Satan, was with wild animals, and angels waited on him (Mark 1:13). Mark’s whole account is compacted into two verses.
Who is this Satan? He makes his grand entrance onto the stage of scripture in the book of Job (Job 1 and 2) where he is the accuser, the adversary, the one who stands against Job. He symbolizes the powers that stand against the kingdom of God, the very powers that are made subject to Jesus (1 Pet. 3:22). The domination system of our world is encapsulated in Satan. The more we move into the kingdom of God, the more we see that these powers have been made subject to Christ. That’s the test for us.
Four times we hear in the Noah story that God’s covenant is not only with us but with every living creature. In the wilderness, Jesus models this harmony with the living creatures. The covenant with Noah bespeaks the harmony in nature, as does Jesus’ presence with the wild beasts. There is no indication that the wild beasts that are with Jesus are a danger to him. The implication is that he is at home with them – perhaps it was from the beasts that Jesus learned to be wild, not to be domesticated. Jesus and the wild beasts are honoring the covenant of companionship proclaimed to Noah. We are all in the same boat.
We enter this Lent with a warning and a promise. The warning is that life finds us at times tested in the wilderness. The promise is that we are with wild beasts and are waited on by angels.
Look it Up
Read The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, or go to the movie, and pay particular attention to Aslan.
Think About It
We often try to domesticate Jesus, to bend him to our cultural and political agendas. In doing so, we try to make him the propaganda agent for the powers of domination. But these powers are subject to Jesus. He is not their agent. Are we?