Driven Mark 5A

DRIVEN

MARK 1:12-13

And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. 11 Then a voice came from heaven, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him.

Present Reality In this present evil age there is one consistent reality that believers face in this world, we all have to deal with the devil. This was the same with Jesus, as our focus passage shows us that Jesus had to deal with the devil Himself. This power encounter in the Judean desert gives the opening volley for our understanding of spiritual warfare, which is what would later prompt Paul to say that,  we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).”  Both history and experience teach us that the dark side is powerful. But the good news is God’s side is more powerful.

Even as Heaven opened up to Jesus at the Jordan, Hell opened to Him in the Wilderness. Sir Isaac Newton’s natural observation is really a biblical truth, “Every action brings an equal and opposite reaction.” The activities of God served as a invitation for the reaction of satan. Friends, nothing promotes the activity of the devil more than your proximity to God.

That action opened the door for the devil and involved inevitable conflict with the slanderer (του διαβολου [tou diabolou]). This is why Mark records the most powerful statement of the three Gospel writers who include this part of Jesus’ life and ministry. Mark emphasizes a close connection between baptism and temptation. Mark says that Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. Matt and Luke use a more benign phrase, saying that Jesus was led. Not Mark. He saysth there was no delay, no discussion, and no preparation.

Even as Jesus begins His public ministry by being baptized, the devil attempted to steal the blessing that God was giving first to Jesus, and then to us, Adam’s descendants. This is as old as the Garden, and as new as today.

For your consideration Verse 13 refers to wild beasts.  These beasts could literally be animals, however some commentators see this as an allusion to demonic creatures, since literature written between the Old and New Testament periods uses this language in a similar wilderness setting. If this is the case, what we really have here are two rival kingdoms locked in a violent conflict: satan with his demons against Jesus and His angels. Now that’s cool! Of course, it could also mean that Jesus is with “wild beasts” that do not harm him is a depiction of the curses of Genesis 3 lifted and the harmony of created beings restored. If Mark is written for a Roman audience, certainly “wild beasts” would remind them of the horrors of the arena. That’s really cool also!

Contrasting Personalities I also want us to see the contrasts between the two Adam’s: the 1st was in a Garden with herbivorous animals, the 2nd in a barren desert surrounded by ferocious beasts. Adam was in peak physical condition, Jesus was weakened by fasting. One had a helpmate/companion of like nature (two are stronger than one), the other had no human companionship in a hostile environment. One was the subject of the devil’s initial temptation, the other the recipient of an attack 1000’s of years in the making (practice, practice, practice). Adam should not have fallen but did. Jesus should have fallen but didn’t. With Adam: Paradise Lost. With Jesus, Paradise Regained.

Satan’s method of attack

When Jesus went into the wilderness, Satan attacked three areas of discipline:

  • Feed Yourself. The first temptation had to do with working a miracle to Jesus’ own comfort.
  • Worship me. The second temptation was to miss the power in the “meek” thing to do which is to seek the face of God. Satan offers power in exchange for worship; Jesus refuses because He worships Father God and through that worship comes power.
  • Prove Yourself. The third temptation is a false application of authority that is undisciplined, presumptuous and untrusting. It is the temptation to think you can force God’s hand.

Temptation Number One The First Temptation begins with a bang, If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread, or what I think the more accurate translation is: Since You are the Son of God. This wasn’t a supposition. It’s an affirmation. Wuest translates it as: In view of the fact that You are the Son of God. The devil wasn’t questioning who Jesus was. He was questioning humanities universal question: God’s provision. This was a direct attack on God’s love, which God had declared at the Baptism. The temptation was seen in the suggestion that Jesus use his own power independently to provide what the Father didn’t.  This would have violated the dependence aspect of Jesus ministry as the second Adam, and it implies that God is indifferent to our needs. It goes back to satan’s original injunction, Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’ (Genesis 3:1)? The violation of dependence would have been a disaster, as Jesus would have forfeited His role as the 2nd Adam by acting independently. Jesus said in John 5:19 that, Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. Think about what has happened when others acted like this. Abram and Sarah thought it would be better to handle it themselves, and we got the ancestors of Mohammed.

This was a test of both Jesus identity and His loyalty to the Father and His purpose for Jesus. It is for this reason, that the writer to the Hebrews says that it was fitting that Jesus should be tempted: ‘Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because He himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted’ (Hebrews 2:17–18). Jesus answered by quoting Scripture and reminding the devil that man shall live by bread alone (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus’ resource for meeting these assaults is the Word of God. Interestingly, he finds the Book of Deuteronomy particularly appropriate; and that should not surprise us, since it was given to Israel in the Old Testament. Now, for the true Israel, in the wilderness for his people, the ancient Word of God is the only adequate help.

This ended the snare of doubt.

Temptation Number Two The second temptation begins with the devil quoting two Scriptures that take into account the Jewish Worldview. According to this paradigm Jerusalem, the City of David, is the center of the world. This based on their understanding of Ezekiel 5:5 which reads, Thus says the Lord God: ‘This is Jerusalem; I have set her in the midst of the nations and the countries all around her. In other words, Jerusalem is the “belly button (navel) of the planet.” This reasoning would say that, Israel is the center of the world; Jerusalem is the center of Israel; the temple is the center of Jerusalem. If you are at the temple you are at the epicenter of the Earth. It is no coincidence that satan took Jesus to the center of the earth, as this was the intended destination where Messiah was to come. Some rabbis taught that the Messiah would stand on the roof of the temple, as a way of interpreting Malachi 3:1, The LORD, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple. Matthew 4:5 A question that is often addressed in commentaries asks whether or not Jesus was  required to be at the disposal of the devil during the temptations. I would say yes, as Jesus had to endure what we are subjected to in this present evil age.  “The temple” (του ἱερου [tou hierou]) includes the whole temple area, not just the sanctuary (ὁ ναος [ho naos]), the Holy Place and Most Holy Place. It is not clear what place is meant by “wing,” but it probably refers to Herod’s royal portico which overhung the Kedron Valley and looked down 450 feet, a dizzy height according to Josephus, Ant. XV. xi. 5. This was on the south of the temple court. Hegesippus says that James the Lord’s brother was later placed on the wing of the temple and thrown down from there.

Matthew 4:6 Cast Yourself down (βαλε σεαυτον κατω [bale seauton katō]). The demand to heave Himself down into the abyss below would intensify the nervous dread that sane people feel when we look down from a really high place. The devil urged presumptuous reliance on God and quotes Scripture to support his view (Psalm 91:11). However, even as the devil quotes the Word of God, he both misinterprets it, and he omits a clause (To keep you in all your ways).

By doing this, he tries to trip the Son of God by the Word of God. It was a skilful thrust and would also be accepted by the populace as proof that Jesus was the Messiah if they should see him sailing down as if from heaven. This would be a sign from heaven in accord with popular Messianic expectation. The devil thought promise of the angels would reassure Jesus. They would be a spiritual parachute for Christ… For it is written: He shall give His angels charge over you, and, In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.

Matthew 4:7 You shall not tempt (οὐκ ἐκπειρασεις [ouk ekpeiraseis]). Jesus quotes Deuteronomy again (6:16) as He shows us that the devil has completely misapplied God’s promise of protection questioning God’s Promise. Jesus will demonstrate who His, but it will be on His Father’s terms. Jesus doesn’t perform at the demand of religion.

Temptation Number Three Jesus is offered the world This is the reality of our present condition, the kingdoms of the world belong to the devil. In the third temptation, the devil wants Jesus to obtain what God has promised him (all the kingdoms of the world) but through a illegitimate way, the devil’s way, which would avoid the cross altogether, And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish (Luke 4:6). Paul also calls the devil the god of this age in 2 Corinthians 4:4. This is important, as it eliminates the argument that the devil was entirely vanquished at the cross. Satan received the title deed over this earth environment by the fall of man. Jesus took the deed back; He purchased it by His blood (Revelation 5). Matthew 4:8 And showed him (και δεικνυσιν αὐτῳ [kai deiknusin autōi]). When Scripture says that Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world (Luke 4:5), Jesus was most likely seeing all the power centers controlled by spiritual beings upon the earth. Satan freely exposed the kingdom of His control to Jesus because he knew that for the first time, there was a clear vision into the realm of his domain and a new order of being was entering the human scene.

Jesus did not contest Satan’s right to offer Him the power of these kingdoms because they had been delivered into Satan’s hands when man fell (Genesis 1). The heartbreak of this world is administered by the power of hell himself whose master stroke is to indict God for what he does. (Why does God let this happen to me?)

Matthew 4:9 I will give You all these things (kingdoms) (ταυτα σοι παντα δωσω [tauta soi panta dōsō]). The devil rightly claims the rule of the world, not merely of Palestine or of the Roman Empire. Jesus affirms this later when He calls him the god or ruler of this world, as the Scriptures record Jesus saying: The ruler of this world will be cast out…  and The ruler of the world is coming, and he has no hold on me (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11).  “The kingdoms of the cosmos” (4:8) are under his influence. This word for world brings out the orderly arrangement of the universe while ἡ οἰκουμενη [hē oikoumenē] presents the inhabited earth. Jesus does not deny the grip of the devil on the world of men.

Let me balance that with this: We are dealing with a defeated enemy because of Jesus. This has us in a position where we are not fighting for victory, we are fighting from a position of victory when we are found in Jesus. He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4). But this doesn’t mean that the fight is over. It has been said that anything that the devil can ruin, he will ruin.

Matthew recorded that Jesus simply needs to “fall down and worship (me)” (πεσων προκυνησῃς μοι [pesōn prokunēsēis moi]). This is a demand that really involved worship of the devil. Jesus ambitions and dreams as a man is what are appealed to at the price of recognition of the devil’s primacy in the world. It was a complete compromise that involved surrender of the Son of God to the dark ruler of this world. This temptation has three elements to it: 1) gaining a temporal, not a spiritual, dominion; 2) gaining it at once; and 3) gaining it by an act of honor to the ruler of this world, which would make Jesus the vice-regent of the devil and not of God.

Matthew 4:10 Away with you, satan (ὑπαγε, Σατανα [Hupage, Satanā]). The words “get behind me” (ὀπισω μου [opisō mou]) belong to Matthew 16:23, and not here. “Away with you or be gone” is the preferred verbiage. This temptation is the ultimate limitation of diabolical suggestion. “Satan” means the adversary and Christ identifies the devil as His and our adversary. This is the third time Jesus quotes Deuteronomy, this time 6:13, and Jesus repels the wicked suggestion by Scripture quotation, “Him alone will you serve.” The word here in Matthew 4:10 for serve is λατρευσεις [latreuseis] from λατρις [latris] a hired servant, one who works for hire. Proper alignment in service renders proper worship.

Matthew 4:11 Then the devil left Him (τοτε ἀφιησιν αὐτον ὁ διαβολος [tote aphiēsin auton ho diabolos]). We need to once again note the use of “then” (τοτε [tote]) again and the historical present. The movement is swift. We are seated with Christ

We have been ushered into a place of rulership in the Lord Jesus Christ. He who was raised and seated in a place of authority with all powers under His feet, has invited us to come and sit with Him. You have a place of rest in Jesus. He has given you a command to enter into spiritual struggle with prayer. He is totally in control and He’s going to work His victory in time.

The eternal God doesn’t work on our timetable. Our part in His plan is to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. We can’t force His hand to make things happen; our job is to glorify the Father who is in control, enter into warfare and rejoice in the place He’s given us. It isn’t our job to analyze everything perfectly, but to understand what we can and respond in obedience.

We are seated with Christ

We have been ushered into a place of rulership in the Lord Jesus Christ. He who was raised and seated in a place of authority with all powers under His feet, has invited us to come and sit with Him. You have a place of rest in Jesus. He has given you a command to enter into spiritual struggle with prayer. He is totally in control and He’s going to work His victory in time.

The eternal God doesn’t work on our timetable. Our part in His plan is to pray with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. We can’t force His hand to make things happen; our job is to glorify the Father who is in control, enter into warfare and rejoice in the place He’s given us. It isn’t our job to analyze everything perfectly, but to understand what we can and respond in obedience.

 

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