1st Sunday in Lent (Year B): In the Wilderness
The Gospel of Mark's account of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness is brief:
"And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. " (Mark 1: 12 - 13)Apart from its brevity the 2 details that interest me most in this is the statement are: "he was with the wild beasts" and "the angels waited on him".
What were those wild beasts?
Wild goats, ibex and hyrax that could have felt like companions in the wilderness? Or hyenas, jackals and wolves that could have posed dangerous threat to a man weak from prolonged fasting? Companions or threats or both? When feeling alone in whatever wilderness we may find ourselves, unexpected companions on the way - even of a type we wouldn't choose can be what we need to survive the experience. For any one going through difficult desert experiences the threats are real, can be overwhelming and life-threatening. Jesus too has been "with the wild beasts" and not only in his 40 days of being tempted in the desert. Through his life as Jesus of Nazareth he enjoyed the company of many unlikely supportive companions and was hounded by those who threatened and finally killed him.
How did those angels wait on him?
Mark's Gospel generally doesn't make much of angels, so their mention in this context is all the more striking. It is clear that Jesus' life was protected during his temptation in the wilderness. Was that through the work of angels he actually saw? Or did he not see angels and only became aware later that he had been surrounded by heavenly beings? Or were those angels sent by God in human form, like a passing group of nomadic people sheltering him in their tents at night or from the noon sun? How I would love to know!
Jesus knows our weakness so we may know his power to save.
It's OK to be weak. It's OK to need help in temptation or when facing the threats of 'wild beasts'. It's OK to let others, even angels in disguise to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. Jesus has been there too. Only by God's grace can we this Lent learn obedience to his Spirit and know his power to save. With that in mind, here is the Collect prayer for this 1st Sunday of Lent with music and pictures.
Image Credit: Wikipedia