First Sunday of Lent
"The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts and the angels ministered to him." (Mk. 1:12-15)
Evangelist Mark throws a curveball to the modern-day readers of the synoptic gospels. Like a curveball, Mark adds and takes away essential aspects of the Temptation of Jesus' narrative that we are accustomed to. For instance, Mark adds angels at the end of his story, comparable to Matthew's account of the temptation narrative. Luke's and Matthew's gospels also provide a conversation between Jesus and Satan. However, Mark's account removes the interaction between Satan and Jesus. Another difference in the synoptic gospels is that neither Luke nor Matthew say anything about the presence of wild beasts; only in Mark's gospel do we hear about wild beasts. Hence, we have a curveball thrown by Mark to modern-day readers of the Temptation of Jesus. Accordingly, the presence of wild beasts is intriguing.
Indeed, finding Jesus in the company of wild animals is perplexing. Never mind the idea that Jesus was in the desert, hungry for forty days, along with Satan. This image is absurd. Who would want to go into a desert to encounter not only Satan but also wild beasts? In a few short words, Mark's pen elevates our consciousness to understand the severity of Jesus' journey in the desert. Jesus was hungry, and Satan was up to no good. Wild beasts were roaming the land for food. With all these challenges, Mark's scenario ends with angels ministering to Jesus.
Diving deeper into this reflection, it dawns on me that this tale would be more favorable if the angels ministered to Jesus initially and not at the end. But Mark does not give us that luxury of knowing what happened before Jesus began his forty-day journey into the desert with wild animals and Satan. Likewise, God does not give us a crystal ball or allow us to look into the future to see what would happen next. Honestly, if we knew the future, we would find ourselves still in the dugout. We would not want to face the pitcher with the curveball or Satan and the wild beasts.
For this reason, an excellent spiritual practice during this Lenten season is to partner with someone of faith at the beginning of your Lenten Journey. Identify someone you trust with your spiritual concerns. Share your thoughts, and then pray with them. No, they do not have a crystal ball, but they will coach you. The two of you can be prayer partners to lift each other when facing Satan and wild beasts.
Therefore, I invite you to submit a prayer request or a petition on Eat the Scroll Ministry's webpage <www.eatthescrollministry.com>. We will walk together in prayer, standing in the gap strengthening each other.
In the end, we will discover that angels were around us for forty-days. The Psalmist said it best, "The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he saves them. Taste and see that the LORD is good..." (Ps. 34:8-9).
Authored: Evangelist Michael P. Howard, MACS