Jesus overcomes Satan in the desert. He thus reveals that he is the Firstborn of the new creation and the Head of the new people of God.
The Spirit drives Jesus out into the desert. Jesus stays there for forty days, tempted by Satan, living with wild beast and receiving service from angels.
That is how Mark summarizes Jesus’ stay in the desert. The evangelist omits details. It is possible he does not dwell on them so that we may not miss the point. And the point is this: the experience of Jesus in the desert summarizes his whole life.
That is to say, the Spirit guides Jesus, in the first place. It is the same Spirit that descended upon him in the Jordan.
In the second place, the desert plays a crucial role in Jesus’ life. There he prays to the Father, listening to him and speaking with him. For Jesus, the desert also means God’s providential care in the midst of trials, adversities, dangers, insecurities. God’s grace is more than enough in tough times; crucifixion means resurrection. Yes, being with wild beast and having angels at his service point to this.
In the third place, then, the life of Jesus is one of trust in God and obedience to his word. In contrast to Adam, Jesus does not fall into temptation, and so he represents the new creation. He is, moreover, the new Noah of the repentant and renewed humanity.
Nor does Jesus put God to the test as did the Israelites who left Egypt. In the desert, he learns to live by every word that comes out of the mouth of God. The word gives him strength to resist every power that goes against the kingdom of God and his righteousness. So then, Jesus embodies all that God seeks in his people.
And, of course, what the desert is to Jesus is what he wants it to be to us.
Lord Jesus, make us go to the desert often. Give us your Spirit so that we may follow the providence of God step by step (SV.EN II:237) and experience it. May the Spirit bring us back to life at the hour of our death. Teach us to trust God completely, sure that his grace is enough for us, for power becomes perfect in weakness. May we feed on God’s word, on the Gospel. By doing so, we shall have the strength to live what we celebrate in the Eucharist.
18 February 2018
First Sunday of Lent (B)
Gen 9, 8-15; 1 Pt 3, 18-22; Mk 1, 12-15