On the Gospel of Mark
This week the focus of our Gospel reading for reflection comes from Mark 1:12-13.
And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
There are three words that catch my attention in English and in the Greek. The words are: immediately, drove out, and wilderness.
Mark’s gospel is a word of immediacy hence, Jesus is immediately is being driven out into the wilderness. There is no time to waste. Jesus must move quickly or is driven quickly into the next phase of his life. What is the rush? The rush is the gospel (Mark 1:1) must be told and told now! There is no time to waste.
Jesus is driven into wilderness. The Greek word used in the sentence is ἐκβάλλει which means cast out, that is, driven away. What is Jesus driven away from? He is driven away from civilization. He is driven away from the most likely place where you think a Jewish religious figure would head Jerusalem. Jerusalem where the Temple is and where people go to find God. Jesus is cast out in the opposite direction of the reader’s or hearer’s anticipation.
The sense of casting will emerge again in Mark 1:16 when Jesus is calling his disciples and they are casting their nets fishing. This is for your awareness and reflection as we journey through Mark. Is there any connection between the contexts in which the word is used? Something to ponder.
Who drives Jesus into the wilderness? The Spirit who has descended upon Jesus at His baptism now drives Jesus out into the wilderness. Into an area beyond the Jordan where many would anticipate God cannot be found. The wilderness here is a geographic location. I think there are many wildernesses in our lives that we encounter: Pandemics, working with people who do not meet our expectations, civil unrest, health, etcetera. What are the wildernesses of your life?
Our story concludes with angels ministering to Jesus. In the wilderness Jesus was not left alone. God was with Him. God was in His midst.
At the end of the day … in the wilderness of your life … God is with you!