Temptation in the Desert Matthew 4:1-11/Mark 1:12-15

The Temptation in the Desert Matthew 4:1-11/Mark 1:12-15

The temptation in the desert and the ministry in Galilee

Mark 1:12-15

At once the Spirit drove him out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.

The Beginning of the Galilean Ministry. After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

In all three synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, the account on the temptation of Jesus in the desert precedes the beginning of His ministry in Galilee. Looking more closely, we will see elements present in these two succeeding events in the life of Christ, which may spark important points in our faith and life as Christians.

First, the temptation happened, not anywhere else, but in the desert. Desert is a place where there is no water, no food and no life at all. The temptation of Jesus happened in this so-called “wilderness of Judea”. In its vicinity can also be found the Dead Sea, a closed body of water where no fish and no single sea creature lives. There is no sign of life because the water is stagnant. It does not flow through to other large body of waters. It is typically dead, that is why it called Dead Sea.

Second, the proclamation of the Gospel that the kingdom of God is at hand, happened in a place where the rich and fertile waters of Galilee is found. Galilee is a place where life and vegetation is in abundance. This is a place where many people flock to get their daily sustenance. Furthermore, the Sea of Galilee is a source of life for all those who come, residents and guests alike. It never runs out of fish and all kinds of water creatures.

These two important events in the life of Jesus – temptation in the desert and ministry in Galilee – may reflect the earthly journey that we have. Given our human freedom and will, we can decide where and how our life would be.

Desert or Galilee?

Why did the angel take Jesus to the desert? Perhaps, to show us that if we choose to live an apathetic, dry and stagnant life, we will experience the greatest temptation we can ever imagine.

When we choose to remain in the dead, familiar or comfortable places where we have always been, we can expect temptations to laziness and fruitlessness to win easily over us.

To isolate ourselves in the desert of complacency and self-centeredness is a path that leads to death. And unless we truly have Christ in us, we can never win over this desert.

 

On the other hand, if we choose Galilee – a place where life is found and where life is in full potential, there we shall find a beautiful proclamation of the Gospel of Life.

If we choose not to close our lives and not to remain in the arid desert of our own selves, but rather be out to the open waters of friendship and communion with others, there we will experience life in its fullness.

If we choose to stay in the rich and fertile soil of our community, of our Church and of the society, where many hungry souls yearn for true sustenance and lasting joy, then we shall experience life.

We shall experience growth and fruitfulness if we do not keep our life, but instead share it to others.

 

Do not choose a lifeless journey

In this season of lent, we are asked not to choose “death”, not to choose a lifeless journey. Rather, we are asked to die to ourselves in order to give and bring life to others.

Galilee is where the major part of Jesus’ ministry took place before his arrest and condemnation to death. Galilee is where he healed the sick and drove out evil spirits. Galilee is where he gave and shared life and received more in return.

We are challenged to overcome the desert of our own selfishness, fruitlessness and comforts. We are challenged to go to Galilee and there to proclaim the Gospel of life to those who cannot see it, to those who need it most.

We are called to experience life and to give life. Let us bring life to those who are dead and not bring death to those who want to live. Let us die, if we need to, so that others may live.

That is what lent is about after all – dying a meaningful death forgetting oneself and caring for others, healing others, calling others back to Jesus. That is what we anticipate on Easter, when our Lord Jesus Christ will rise again after conquering death. When we give ourselves up for others, that is the real meaning of life, of being truly alive.

 

POINTS FOR REFLECTION:

What kind of desert am I experiencing right now and what temptation am I trying to overcome?

At this point of my life, how does God want me to grow, to be fruitful and to be life-giving?

 

The Temptation in the Desert Matthew 4:1-11/Mark 1:12-15

 

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