And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. Mark 1.12-13
Satan tempted Jesus with the hope that he could accuse Him of sin. Satan attempted to lead Jesus into independence from the Father. He wanted to violate the Triune God, to lead Jesus astray from the unified plan of redemption. But he waited till after Jesus had fasted for forty days and forty nights. He wanted to attack Jesus at the most vulnerable hour. The text implies that the Holy Spirit sent Jesus to the wilderness for the sake of the temptation. Perhaps it was the Father’s will that Jesus experienced Satan’s temptation, an affirmation that Jesus is the Son of God, and that Satan’s stronghold on humanity would soon weaken. Satan’s defeat in the wilderness was a foreshadow of the final victory of the cross. Just as Jesus submitted to the will of the Father in the wilderness, He would submit to the will of the Father when he faced the cross.
Jesus fasted in the wilderness surrounded by His own creation. Without a doubt he witnessed the sun rise and the sun set. Among the rocks and the trees He was in silence. The self-existing creator among His creation, in solitude, preparing for the next three years of difficulty, accusations, rejection, broken heart, and murder attempts. I presume that Satan was nearby, waiting for the perfect time. The wild beasts were present. The text doesn’t elaborate on the behavior or purpose of the animals. It is possible that they ministered to Jesus, that the animals lay near him. For those who have pets, it is easy to understand the comfort and companionship of a faithful animal. Satan was present, the angels were present, and animals were present. Jesus fasted in the wilderness experiencing the fullness of his creation, except for one. He lacked the companionship of humanity. For the first time in his recorded life, Jesus was alone. For the next three years Jesus would be surrounded by people. In the wilderness Jesus prepared for His fight, the fight for the souls of men.
What does this text mean for us. We can reflect on the historical nature of the text. The Father prepared the Son for the baptism, for the temptation, for His ministry, and for His sacrifice. We are reminded that humanity is God’s prize creation and that we are responsible to care for the rest. And the rest of God’s creation is for us to enjoy; the magnificence that we witness is a testimony to the transcendence, greatness, creativity, and provision of God. There may be a time that our preparation should include solitude, the necessity to be still. In response to Satan’s temptation Jesus has given us an example to follow. In our loneliness, when we are apart from others, we learn the value and benefits of friendship. And sometimes after spending too much time with friends we learn to appreciate our alone time with God. Just as angels ministered to Jesus, we know that angels minister to us. Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? Hebrews 1.14 When we face temptation we can trust in God’s faithfulness.
Parallel passages: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him. Matthew 4.1-11
And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered. And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. And when the devil had ended all the temptation, he departed from him for a season. Luke 4.1-13