In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 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. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 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.
14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him. – Mark 1:9-20
You never know when a word will get someone sideways. It happened a several years ago when Rick Warren published his book, The Purpose Driven Church. The word driven apparently drove home a point that was utterly unacceptable to some. We should not be driven, they asserted.
Note here, however, that Jesus is driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. He was there for 40 days, being tempted by Satan. To make this even more stunning, Matthew tells us that Jesus was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matthew 4:1). God deliberately sent Jesus – drove him! – into the wilderness to be tempted. That was the purpose of Jesus’ temptation.
It reminds me of sending our sons off to the armed forces in time of war. That is not done lightly. Nor is it done without training and backup. Even Special Forces groups have people behind the scenes to support them in their mission.
Jesus is prepared for this mission by his training in the temple. Luke records Jesus’ visit to the temple when he was 12 (Luke 2) and his declaration that he must be in his father’s house. We also learn in Luke 4 that it was Jesus’ custom to go to the synagogue. Jesus was not some ill-prepared over-confident hayseed marching off to war. This is the Son of God, fortified by God’s word throughout his life, sustained in the faith through the years through the habit of worship, and given a clear identity and remarkable vote of confidence just now, “You are my beloved son…”
There is a sad but comical scene recorded in Acts 19 where Sceva’s seven sons try to take on Satanic forces with a borrowed faith. It didn’t work so well. They left the encounter wounded and bleeding.
Jesus does not borrow faith. He is clear in his own identity. He will take on Satan. Here he will win. Three years later he will win in a different manner, and he will be left battered and bleeding – but victorious in his mission.
He’s begun that mission now. Soon he will teach his followers the Lord’s Prayer. In it he instructs us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” I believe that is an earnest prayer, of grave importance for us to offer. For Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted. He’s been there. He is now able to provide comfort to us in our times of temptation, for he has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus was driven to a place of extreme temptation, and overcame it so that his love and forgiveness may be the driving force in our lives.