22 February 2015

Mark 1:9-15

“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” (v. 12)

Psalm: Psalm 25


In Christian history, Lent has been for some believers the last step of preparation for Baptism and a time of wrestling with the demands of following Jesus. In this passage from the Gospel of Mark, the theme of preparation runs through these three key events: the Baptism, temptation and beginning of the ministry of Jesus.

In the few words describing Jesus' Baptism, the writer of the Gospel makes two things clear: that Jesus is the Son of God (verse 11); and that the Holy Spirit comes in a new manner upon him (verse 10). Who Jesus is will profoundly shape the way in which he lives his life and, in order to do the work of the Father, even the Son of God is dependent on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Yet, we are told that the Spirit "immediately drove him out into the wilderness". Far from offering some protection from the trials and hardships of the world, the presence of the Spirit heightens the need to engage in spiritual discernment and work through the tough challenges of doing God's work. Following Jesus demands that we pay attention to our spiritual preparation and that we wrestle with the choices and temptations we face.

Those called to follow Jesus are promised the presence of the Holy Spirit, and yet many have experienced this sense of being driven into the wilderness, or a time of intense testing, which becomes a time of preparation for all the challenges that doing God's work may bring. Jesus emerges from this time of testing "proclaiming the good news of God" (v. 14). Good news for all!

To Ponder

  • In what ways might Lent be, for you, a time of preparation for the work God calls you to?
  • What particular challenges are you wrestling with at present?
  • What helps you in your spiritual discernment?

Bible notes author

The Revd Nicola Price-Tebbutt

Nicola Price-Tebbutt is a presbyter in the Methodist Church. She has previously served in circuit in Sheffield and as a tutor at Hartley Victoria College in Manchester.