Into the Wilderness
On this first Sunday of Lent our reading from Mark’s gospel is about a long and treacherous stintin the wilderness. Unlike his counterparts, Matthew and Luke, Mark offers his readers no colourful details about Jesus’s experience in the wilderness. We don’t learn what the specific temptations were, or how Jesus responded to them. Mark doesn’t even assure us that Jesus “passed” his desert test. All he gives us are two abrupt sentences: “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”
I don’t know about you, but this terse version of events leaves me buzzing with questions. How exactly did Jesus spend his time? Was he tempted 24/7? Did he walk for miles each day, or camp out in one spot? Where did he sleep? What was the silence like, hour after hour after hour? Did he break it up by humming, laughing, or shouting? Did he star gaze? Play with birds? Chase lizards? As the days stretched on and on, did he fear for his life? Question his sanity? Wish to die?
Mark, given, as ever, to conciseness, leaves all of these questions unanswered. But the few details he does include in his account are telling, and they give us much to cling to as we face deserts in our own lives.