“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” (Mark 1:12)
The wilderness appears as wasteland. The weather is scorching, the living conditions exhausting, the nourishment scanty. Weary and haggard, we trudge through, begging desperately for this part of the journey to end quickly.
Perhaps the worst part of the trek is the nagging sense that we are alone; God has abandoned us here because he is angry and is unleashing appropriate punishment. We are unworthy and have brought this accursed situation on ourselves; he is unmindful of our wretched circumstances.
The opening verses of the Gospel of Mark prove that logic as flawed. John the Baptist has just immersed the Lamb of God in the Jordan River; the heavens are torn wide open, and the Holy Spirit descends on Christ in the form of a dove.
The culmination of this dramatic moment in history is the Father’s voice booming from the doorway of heaven: “You are my Beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The highest possible praise bestowed from the King of the Universe on his Beloved Son is the finest form of affirmation and approval.
What happens next? How does the Father top this stunning proclamation?
The next two verses tell us that “immediately” God sent Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan for forty days.
The Father was exceedingly pleased with his Son, and yet he allowed Jesus to enter the gut-wrenching wilderness for a specific reason, for a designated period.
Since we are his children, whom he is consistently transforming into the likeness of his Son, he will also allow us to enter similar situations.
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering” (Hebrews 2:10). The Beloved Son had to endure the wilderness for our sake. When we are made to wander through, he is the perfect guide.