Notes on Mark’s Gospel (11)

“On Your Mark”

The way, the truth and the life!
The way, the truth and the life!

The Reality of Evil and Victory (Chapter 1 Verses 9-13)

The Son of God so pleased his Father in all points, that he could have stepped right back into heaven there and then, it was open to him. But he had committed himself to being the sinner’s Saviour, he took his place alongside us, and there was no going back. And his Father’s response to that? Well pleased, delighted! Because he had so loved the world. The account Mark gives of Jesus’ temptations is both brief and plain. It is not surprising that a response from hell should follow what has gone before. But we must notice that it is the Spirit who sends Jesus, the last Adam, out into the desert. It is not Satan who comes looking for Jesus, on the contrary the initiative is with the Lord and always is. It surely is an encouragement that the Son of God was tempted just like us (Hebrews 4.15). However this temptation bears epic qualities, not even Stephen Spielberg could produce such as this. The scene is a dry, arid desert, and these two sworn enemies are locked in mortal combat, face to face, it is a fight to the death, only one winner and no prisoners. The Son of God eyeball to eyeball with Satan. There are similarities here with the temptation in Eden (Genesis 3.1ff), the threefold aspect of the bait, good for food, pleasing to the eye, desirable for wisdom (Genesis 3.6). And Jesus here too faces a three-pronged attack. It is not as a private person Jesus faces this conflict, but as our representative, he has come, not the second, but the last Adam, because there won’t be another. And he has come to challenge Satan’s rule over humankind, and on Satan’s own territory with everything humanly speaking against him. It is as a man Jesus takes the devil on, and as a man he overcomes, defeats him.

It is also important to note the personality and reality of what Jesus faces here. It’s not a principle. It’s not some indefinable psychological or sociological thing, something that can be educated, or psycho-analyzed out of society. Neither is it a personality defect in Jesus’ personal make-up. Note the personal name, Satan. Evil is real and potent (Ephesians 6.10ff; Job 1-2; Ezekiel 28.11- 19; Isaiah 14.12-15). The devil is a slanderer who lies to people about themselves, about sin and about God. Don’t listen to him. The thought of Jesus being with the wild animals v13b, is that possibly a foretaste of the eschatological (end-time) hope that is ours (Isaiah 11.6-9). But yes, let us not be mislead here, evil is real, and so too is temptation, but so too is our final hope, our victory through the gospel, our sure, certain, as good as done salvation and glorification (Romans 15.13).

(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)

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