Friends, we have come to the great and holy season of Lent. Lent is, by its nature, a desert time, a time of simplicity, purification, and asceticism. We notice today in Mark’s account of the temptation that the Spirit himself led Jesus into the desert.
In so many of the great figures of salvation history—Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, David—a period of testing is required before they can commence their work. We see the same thing in the initiation rituals of tribal peoples as well—and you can see it in Luke Skywalker’s initiation in Star Wars.
The desert represents a stripping away so as to make the fundamental things appear. In the desert, there are no distractions or diversions or secondary matters. Everything is basic, necessary, simple. One survives or one doesn’t.
One discovers in the desert strengths and weaknesses he didn’t know he had. It is like the purifying of a metal in fire. Now, Jesus didn’t have sin to deal with, but in his humanity, he knew temptation. Before we’re ready to resume our work, we have to go with him into the wilderness.