Summary: In what ways can we learn to identify things that seek to devour us when we are in our wilderness experiences? How can we overcome these temptations that try to drag us down?
Iliff and Saltillo Churches
February 13, 2005
“What We Can Learn in the Wilderness”
INTRODUCTION: Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Jesus is almost ready to begin his public ministry, but first He must go through some things as final preparation. He had to identify himself with sinful humanity at the outset of His ministry, and He did this by submitting to baptism. Then He had to face temptation. Mark’s gospel doesn’t list any specific temptations as you will find in the gospel of Matthew or Luke. Perhaps it is because each of us face slightly different temptations and yet we do not have to give in to any of them because Jesus is SUFFICIENT to handle whatever life brings our way. There are three main things I got out of Mark’s account of the temptation. Let’s see how we can apply these things to our daily life.
1. Wandering in Our Wilderness--Immediately after Jesus was baptized by John and heard God’s voice from Heaven saying, “Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well pleased,” things began to change for him. He was led of the Spirit into the wilderness. Mark does not describe how Jesus felt about this, but Jesus was going from a very positive experience to an undesirable wilderness. A wilderness is any place we don’t want to be. This wilderness was a place where He found himself alone. His friends were not there. He had no support team to encourage him. Maybe He felt the aloneness intensely--maybe He wandered around for awhile thinking, “What do I do next? Where do I go? How do I handle this?” Mark is the only writer who says He was alone except for the wild animals. As He was in this environment, He was surrounded by danger--a person out there alone at night could have been torn apart by the wild animals.
There are many thoughts we can apply to our own lives from this experience of Jesus. We also have wilderness experiences where we feel alone, feel we are wandering around without knowing what to do or where to turn. We are surrounded by many dangers and temptations that are every bit as threatening to us, or more so, than the wild animals that Jesus faced. Scripture tells us that “your adversary, the devil as a roaring lion walketh about seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). The devil wanted to tempt Jesus there in His wilderness in order to destroy his work and cancel His mission on earth. Satan did not want Jesus to accomplish the mission he set out to do. He wanted to sidetrack him and he had a perfect opportunity to do so when he was alone in the wilderness.
Satan especially wants to sidetrack all of us from accomplishing our calling for God. He can sidetrack you very subtly and easily. We live in a world of many dangers--danger not only of crime and violence and physical dangers to us but even more so the subtle attacks on our faith. Many people are succumbing to these dangers--first of all by being led away from church, from the teachings of the scriptures and by a greater tolerance to questionable things. We begin to compromise--the wild beasts of indifference and apathy toward spiritual things devour us. People more and more will say, “I believe in God and I am a Christian but I don’t go to church.” This is a trick of the devil because church is the place where we are to be built up and nourished in our faith.
The old song goes, “Through many dangers toils and snares I have already come,...” Jesus needed to experience a difficult wilderness experience in order to identify with us today--although the things he experienced were different from what we face in our 21st century technological age--there was the same pull of temptation for him to go ahead and give in to sin. Jesus needed to experience the invitation to sin because scripture tells us that He was “in all points tempted like as we are --yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15).
STORY: A man got tired of people telling him “Have a good day! He didn’t think it was sincere but just a routine saying.”
He began answering, “No thank you. I’ve got other plans for today.”
Jesus had the invitation to sin. He said, “No thank you. I’ve got other plans.”
Jesus was alone in the wilderness--he had no support group, and no one to give him advice. When things began to hit him adversely, he could have wondered, “Has God abandoned me? Is God not pleased with me? Does God not love me any more?” These are things Satan uses on us to make us doubt and feel discouraged.