“And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to him” (Mark 1:13)
During those forty days of fasting Jesus was alone but certainly not lonely. The Father promised to never leave him. He was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness (vs 12), led into the eye of the storm not out of it. We are not promised escape from life’s battles but we are promised accompaniment through them. No believer has to fight life’s battles alone. And the text says he was “tempted by Satan” so there was external opposition. Plus, jackals, wild dogs and perhaps lions howled and prowled through the night. He walked alone but I don’t believe He walked afraid. The topper is that “angels ministered to him”. On one side wild animals, on the other, wondrous angels. The beasts were probably no threat. In the Kingdom Age Jesus will cause the lion to lie down with the lamb. They knew Him as master and probably laid down before Him to make fur and feather pillows like the lions in Daniel’s lions’ den. But we don’t know that for sure. Being “there” with the wild beasts teaches that Jesus too dealt with the anxieties caused by things that go bump in the night. We assume He slept well for if he could sleep in the hinder part of a ship during a Galilean sea squall surely a few barking stray dogs weren’t going to interfere with his rest.
Wild beasts may surround you. David penned, “My soul is among lions…” (Psalm 57:4) Rabies and distemper can affect the water supply at work, just as it does in the wild. We have met plenty of educated animals with razor sharp bicuspids – “There is a generation whose teeth are like swords, and whose fangs are like knives” (Proverbs 30:14). Jesus’ weeks among the wild beasts were a testing time. God has you planted where you are for a reason and for a season. The adversities will build patience and trust and push you to your knees in prayer. You may even have scars from their bites to show as a testimony. Be encouraged, you will not be there forever but even if the stay in the wilderness is prolonged, you can turn the wilds into worship with the right kind of attitude. Angels are present. You may not see them, sense them or even believe in them, but they believe in you – “…their angels always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10). Fear sees the animals; faith sees the angels. When Jesus rose up from prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane “an angel appeared to Him form heaven, strengthening Him” (Luke 22:43). Amid the growls there is guardianship. The fiercest lion, the tempter, is no match for these heavenly warriors.
What is the outcome when we overcome? Jesus returned to Nazareth from the wilderness “in the power of the Spirit” (Luke 4:14). We come out of the testing time stronger than when we went into it. The wilderness empowers the walk. Boot camp builds spiritual biceps, after the training comes the reigning, it won’t be long until those muscles will be used. It is in the nitty-gritty that we discover our personal grit. When the real storms came, confronting the man with the Legion of devils, silencing the Pharisees, enduring Gethsemane and ultimately conquering Death, those few weeks among the wild beasts seemed like child’s play in comparison. But they equipped Him with the courage needed for the greater battles. Normally the Spirit “draws” but He “drove” Jesus into the wilderness. The Father was so anxious to get the business of redemption started that He would not allow any delay. That could only mean that He had full confidence that Jesus would come out of the wilderness as Victor. He sees you through the same lens. With the temptations He will also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it. The wild beasts didn’t prevail against Jesus, nor will they prevail against you. The lions got lockjaw and couldn’t harm Daniel. Or, as Moody preached, they wouldn’t have eaten him anyway, because he was all backbone, gristle and grit! You too have backbone! So don’t fear, along with the animals there will always be the angels. You are never alone!
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