Wednesday, February 22, 2012

a lonely place Mark 1:9-15

Mark tells the story of Jesus baptism noting a heavenly voices approval,  "You are my son, the beloved; with you I am well pleased." Mark 1:9-10. 
Jesus' story takes an instant twist--from baptism to temptation.
Καὶ ευθὺς τὸ πνευμα αυτὸν εκβάλλει εις τὴν έρημον
And immedieatly the spirit tossed him out into the deserted/lonely place:
  The word ἔρημον/έρημος deserted/lonely sticks out in Mark's account of Jesus temptation. Many use words like desert and wilderness to describe this place. Reading Mark this year the loneliness comes clear.  The Spirit drove Jesus into a lonely place and the temptations and the tempter came for him.  Lonely places don't just exist in the wild or the desert; desolation exists as much in our minds and hearts as in any place.  Even in great cities and in the midst of "good" families there are lonely places of isolation and temptation. 
  It's in the lonely places where who we are, who the tempter is, and who God is can come clear.  Mark say nothing particuar about how Satan tempted Jesus; he says it happened.  Any adult human has temptations they've faced when alone; and Jesus, fully human, faced temptations too.  Each of us is unique and the Devil knows it and that's exactly why he chooses temptations for each of us one by one.  Satan seeks to destroy us all, but he doesn't always work to destroy us en masse, rather he picks at us one by one searching for us when we are isolated using temptations as a wedge to force us away from God and our neighbors.
  In lonely places we find both faith and doubt.  It's in moments alone when who we are before God, our sin and strengths can come clear.  A lonely moment is the moment to turn towards temptation or towards God to help you.  Faith is confidence in God's presence when we are tempted into sin and when we have no evidence, besides hope, that God is real (see Hebrews 11:1).  Faith turns us towards God's presence even when see desolation and loneliness.  Even as we face the Devil and doubt alone faith is God's gift to remind us that we are not alone; that God is with us.
May God Sustain us with faith and hope and love even in the lonely places of our lives
Pax, John

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