Lesson for the Lord’s Day

And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan, and was with the wild beasts, and the angels ministered unto Him. Mark 1:13

As a lad, I spent many long hours in the woods of New Annan, exploring, hiking, and hunting. One of the things I loved about being in the woods was the realization that I was seldom alone. I almost always encountered squirrels, frequently rabbits and groundhogs, and many times deer, moose, foxes and other wildlife. Birds of all kinds were always about and many of them were friendly. I enjoyed the companionship of wildlife, and can appreciate others enjoying the wild animals as well. Our text tells us the wild animals were Jesus’ only companions as He endured the devil’s temptations in the wilderness. Even the angels remained at a distance until the devil was whipped, so the animals were His only comfort as well. As the Son of God bound for Calvary, He had nothing to fear from any of the beasts; they were the creation of His own hands. But their silence reminds us of the loneliness that our Lord encountered on His way to the cross.

During His ministry, Jesus often had to deal with situations and people that were worse than the company of wild beasts. A bear or lion in the wilderness was no problem, compared to the malice and spite of the Jewish leaders, or the angry rejection of His neighbours in Nazareth. Even at the cross, His only companions were the jeering soldiers, the mocking priests and scribes, and the cursing malefactors. Unlike the wilderness, there were no waiting angels at the cross ready to minister to His needs. Even the mockers and blasphemers were silent as the darkness of divine judgment overswept that scene, and the loneliness was so intense that it wrung from our Saviour’s lips the cry, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani!’. No angels, not even wild beasts, were there to give Him comfort and company.

Other Gospels go into greater detail concerning the temptation than Mark does. Mark’s record is very brief, mentioning only the devil’s temptation, the wild beasts’ presence, and the angels’ ministering. Even our imaginations are pulled up short when it comes to understanding all that happened. It was a test that proved Jesus’ fitness to be our sacrifice, a test that only the wild beasts witnessed. It was a great victory, and although the animals could not understand, they were there to see.

We who did not see the temptation, and could not see Calvary, rejoice today that we soon will see our Saviour in His glory. – Jim MacIntosh

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