Reflection on Mark 1:9-15
Reflection on Mark 1:9-15 - 1st Sunday in Lent
In the Wilderness
In the reading from Mark’s Gospel today we hear, in vs 12 and 13 of Jesus being driven into
the wilderness, by the spirit, to be tempted by Satan for 40 days and 40 nights. We are told that also present are the wild beasts and that the angels waited on Jesus.
Sothen, there are various entities that are represented here in the wilderness. We have the
Holy Spirit of God urging Jesus on to face the struggle. There is Satan whose job it is to
cause Jesus to fail in his divine quest. There are also , as we said, the wild beasts and then
the angels so quite a collection of heavenly and earthly beings!
And we might think of these as being various influences that have subtle effects on our lives drawing us in particular directions.
Paul tells us in. Eph 6:12.
For we are not fighting against human beings but against the wicked spiritual forces in the
heavenly world, the rulers, authorities, and cosmic powers of this dark age.
And in a way, our life here on earth is precisely this wilderness setting. We all have the Spirit within us urging us to face the powers of this world by speaking truth to power and standing up for what is right. Yet we all also have the voice of the world making seductive promises of money, power, glamour, status, fixes for our addictions and so on, all of which can look very shiny and attractive but undoubtedly will lead us away from our divine calling, in order to serve only the self.
But what about the wild beasts that were there, well these represent our animalistic instincts which are powerful unconscious forces within us that drive the agenda of self survival and so are tempted by the empty promises of the world.
And the angels? All those who inspire us through their words and works, who tend us when we are tempted and broken and whose influences lift us up to a higher way of seeing things, to selfless giving, to loving without strings attached and to serving the good of the whole.
And there we are right in the middle of the drama of the wilderness of this world. Created as both earthly and divine beings (our being made in the image of God. Thus making us the only beings in all of creation, with a foot in both worlds, and having the free will to choose which powers will influence us and which we will refuse, And these influences that call out to us to turn this way or that play out not only at a personal level in our lives but at a collective level too.
Just think about the vaccine issue of a few weeks ago and the spat between the UK and the EU. Some in the UK were positively gloating at how well we were doing with our vaccine roll out. Some were ready to do battle when the EU, who were struggling to get supplies of vaccines, suggested the UK’s supplies must be diverted. Ably assisted by cynical media reporting, nationalism was running high and wild beasts, ie animalistic survival instinct was easily spotted on both sides of the spat.
Others however, with a greater capacity for discerning wisdom of were making the point that unless the whole is served the survival of individual nations will always be under threat. And so you see, we do live our lives both individually and collectively in this wilderness setting pulled by the force which draws the whole of creation towards itself and at the same time by the force that seeks to serve only the self…. and in the process draws the whole to destruction.
This passage from Mark's gospel then serves as a model, not for showing us what Jesus did and how we should try to do the same. But rather who we truly are as humans made in the image of God and awakening to our divine nature in Christ, the only species in all of creation that are called to make conscious decisions about whether we choose to align ourselves with the unitive wholeness of life in the spirit or with the destructive forces that only serve the self. The consequences are huge and the outcome really does lie in our hands. So our choices are to remain unconscious and allow ourselves to be persuaded by the seductive whispers of superficial trappings of the worldly powers that will ultimately lead to our destruction.
Or to wake up to the Christ within us and serve the God who seeks to reconcile the whole of creation, that the wilderness years might finally come to an end and a new heaven and earth would be revealed.