February 21

Mark 1:9-15

“And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’ And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” vss. 11-12 

Mark is a “bare bones” gospel. As the first to be written it charts Jesus’ ministry from baptism through resurrection, but leaves the teaching and parables to Matthew and Luke. Here Jesus gets no time at all to bask in the glory of his baptismal experience–immediately he is not led but driven by the Spirit into the wilderness for the first of his encounters with the Tempter. There are no details, just the facts. His moment of connection with the Divine on the banks of the Jordan was gone in an instant, and then came forty days of temptation in company with the wild beasts. We know what that’s like. Our moments of exultation and recognition are often quickly followed by a cold dash of reality. We can go from certainly to questioning in a heartbeat, and the times in the wilderness are ever so much longer than those fleeting minutes of joy and confidence. We might not like it but it has to happen–the wilderness is where the real growing takes place. It’s here that we sort out our priorities and consider what it might be that God has in mind for us. The good news is that we’re never abandoned–even Jesus wasn’t alone. The Spirit was there and angels ministered to him. In our darkest moments God will be present–and we will be taken care of. After all, we are God’s beloved!

Thought for the Day: Lows that have followed my highs!

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