III. The Initiation of Jesus into His Ministry (vv. 12-13)
a. Sent out by the Spirit
Now that Jesus has been affirmed by the Father and equipped by the Spirit it is time for Him to begin His ministry. In verses 12-13 Mark tells us that this is just what he does: “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 verse 9 we read about the Spirit coming to equip Jesus for His ministry, now here in verse 12 we see the first instance of the Spirit’s help. Mark tells us that he “drove” Jesus out into the wilderness. This word that mark uses is a very strong word. In fact, if I were to use a Greek word to describe someone throwing a baseball this is the word that I would use. It is the same word that Mark uses to describe Jesus “casting out” demons. Mark uses it here not to imply that Jesus didn’t want to go out into the desert, but rather to demonstrate the strong sense of compulsion from the Spirit. You see, Jesus had to go out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He was taking upon Himself the role of a representative for man, and upon the inauguration of this ministry it is obvious that He had to be tempted. Jesus was not the first representative for the human race. The Bible teaches that Adam first represented mankind. However “Adam, when tempted, failed. So Christ ‘the last Adam’ must now be tempted, in order that by his victory over the tempter he may, for all who believe in him, undo the results of the first Adam’s failure.” This is exactly what Paul meant in Romans 5:19 when he said, “For as by one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by one man’’ obedience the many will be made righteous.”
b. Tempted by Satan
From God’s perspective Jesus had to be tempted by the devil so that Jesus could undo the failure of the first Adam. However, Satan had a different aim. All the way back in Genesis 3:15 God promised to send One who would defeat Satan. Now He had arrived, and Satan was fighting for His life. He knew that if he could get Jesus to sin he would win, and so he pulled out all the stops. Mark tells us that Jesus was in the desert for forty days undergoing this temptation. This temptation was not from within, but was solely an attack from the outside by Satan. When we are tempted it is usually because of our own sinful nature, and the conflicting thoughts that we have. But this was not the case with Jesus because, as God, He was sinless (James 1:13). Even though He faced temptation from the outside—just like we do—He never desired to succumb to this temptations. Consequently, He was successful in overcoming Satan’s temptation. Jesus was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan. The idea here is that not only did Jesus experience this temptation, but he also overcame it. If Satan’s temptation had been successful then it would not have lasted forty days. If I had been tempted in the wilderness it would have only lasted about one day before I would have succumbed to the temptation. However, Jesus did not succumb. Even though He was tempted in every way as we are, He never succumbed to this temptation. Not in the wilderness, or ever! What an amazing thing to have a Savior who has experienced what we have experienced, and overcome what we were not able to overcome. Mark adds a couple of details that may seem insignificant, but they bring out this very point. Mark says that Jesus was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to Him. Why do you think that Mark adds this to the details of the event? Mark adds this to emphasize the difficulty that Jesus faced. This was an area full of boars, jackals, wolves, hyenas, and all sorts of dangerous animals. Additionally, Mark tells us that the Angels were ministering to Him in order to point out that there was no one else there with Jesus. Jesus was all alone while he went through this trial. This is why Hebrews 4:15 says that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Jesus is our representative and High Priest. He overcame temptation, lived a perfect life, and provided a cleansing sacrifice. Apart from His work we will never be able to overcome the effects of sin in our lives, however through Jesus we can bee freed from sin and death and made alive to Him.
As we look back on the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry it is clear that He is the Messiah who came to save us by becoming a perfect sacrifice. He submitted to this ministry by being baptized, He received confirmation of His ministry from the Father, and He was initiated into His ministry by being tempted in the wilderness. This is the person that we must put our faith in. We must trust Him with our lives because He can identify with us in our times of trouble and more importantly because he can save us from our sins.