Read Mark 1:9-13
9 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”
12 The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him. (NLT)
It is interesting that Jesus asks us to pray that we are not led into temptation when it seems it was God’s Spirit who led Jesus himself into temptation. Perhaps we need to understand that in the Lord’s Prayer we are asking that we not succumb to temptation.
The words for ‘temptation’ and ‘testing’ are the same in the original New Testament language. We know that testing can strengthen our faith so we cannot or should not demand an escape from it. Temptation, on the other hand, is a Satan-inspired seduction. Testing is God’s way of helping us form our faith and depend on him. Temptation is Satan’s way of getting us to be untrue to God.
So Jesus was in the wilderness so that his ministry priorities were sorted out, that he knew his identity and purpose. It was a testing time. It was also a tempting time because the evil one wanted to sidetrack him into being a different sort of tame Messiah. Yielding to temptation can lead us badly astray. Resisting temptation or surviving the test can put us on the right track.
Our text tells us Jesus was amongst both wild animals and angels. A good description of our own experiences of testing and temptation. We are surrounded by threats to our wellbeing. We are sustained by the powerful presence of God. Such is the nature of our own personal wilderness.