1 Lent - Mark 1:9-15
In both Matthew and Luke, we overhear an extended conversation between Jesus and Satan in the wilds, with three distinct temptations related to bread, power, and sacred security.
Mark's story of temptation is much longer.
If you blink, you'll miss the forty days in the desert ... but not the temptation story, because the entire gospel is a battle between Jesus and the forces trying to derail him.
Jesus is tempted and tested throughout.
Jesus begins his public ministry in a synagogue by casting out an unclean spirit, and goes on to contend against others in chapters one, three, five, six, seven, and nine.
But it's not just the demons who test him.
Instant success threatens his wider mission in chapter one.
Religious authorities test him with trap questions across multiple episodes.
His family tries to bring him home and talk sense to him; his hometown rejects him.
His own disciples test him as much as anyone, and at one point he erupts at their ringleader,
Simon Peter, Get behind me, Satan!
It's not because Peter is wearing unflattering red tights and horns.
It is because the Hebrew term Satan means Accuser or Adversary, a role of opposition
that can be played by familiar and beautiful and beloved faces too.
A rich, religious young man wants to follow him, but Jesus looks past his wealth and resume and loves him enough to invite him to sell everything, give them money to the poor, and then come follow; the man slinks away like a defeated tempter.
You cannot turn a page or a corner in Mark without facing another adversary.
Satan keeps after Jesus a lot longer than just forty days.
His whole ministry is a battle.
But Jesus does withdraw from the world to have three lonely, high stakes, one-on-one conversations with no one else istening.
They are not with the devil; they are with God.
In chapter one, as his ministry explodes with early success and he is faced with having
instant, enormous power and glory, he prays.
In chapter six, after turning a few loaves into bread enough to satisfy a starving crowd, he prays.
In chapter fourteen, needing a magical, miraculous rescue in Jerusalem, he prays: Abba.