Mark 1:12, 13
And immediately the spirit drives him into the wilderness.…
Great moral problems are suggested by the temptation. Mark does not describe the nature of it, but leaves the imagination and cognate experience of his readers to fill up the spaces, or, having a different object from the other evangelists, he, supposing the details furnished by them well known, contents himself with an epitome. But it is an epitome of a very vivid and pregnant kind. The salient points alluded to by him are -
I. THE PREDISPOSING CAUSE OF IT. The temptation, singularly enough, follows "straightway" upon the baptism, in such a way as to establish the fact of a close connection between the two events; and that Spirit which crowned with its descent the act of obedience is the direct cause of Christ's being tempted. Is not this inconsistent with what we learn of God from the Bible? He is not, we are told, tempted of evil, "neither tempteth he any man."
1. It was necessary to the purpose of Christ's coming into the world that he should be tempted. As a portion, therefore, of his mediatorial experience and perfecting, it was quite fitting that the Spirit, through whom he had come, should lead him forward to each chief point of trial in his career. It is conceivable that one should approach evil from the side of an evil heart already predisposed to yield. But it belongs to the virtue of Christ's position as one tempted that he was led into it by the Spirit. It was - to translate a part of the meaning of this into familiar speech - it was "from the highest motives" that he submitted to temptation.
2. It was not the Spirit that tempted him, but it was through being in the condition induced by the indwelling of the Spirit that he became exposed to temptation in its most terrible forms. It is only as being in a higher spiritual state than that to which one's circumstances correspond that they can be truly said to tempt him. The greatest temptations are revealed in the highest spiritual experience, even as darkness by light. We can never appreciate the power of Satan until we look at him from a state of holiness and devout illumination.
II. THE AGENT OF IT. Mark uses the peculiar word "Satan," instead of "the devil," as in the other Gospels. The choice of this term may have been determined by a desire to emphasize the special character of the devil as "the adversary" whom he was to overthrow, or simply by an instinctive sense that thereby the personality, and the identification of that personality with the historic Satanic principle of revelation, would be made clearer. It was with no secondary being that Jesus wrestled, but with the prince of darkness himself. In such an encounter the conflict must needs be a duel, and even then was it determined beforehand in favor of the Son of God. But the allurements employed were necessarily of the most subtle and grandly representative character. It was a final trial of strength, upon which the future of salvation depended.
III. THE ASSOCIATIONS OF IT. The forty days in the wilderness reminded men of the similar fasts of Moses and Elijah. The wild beasts may have been an unconscious reproduction of the conditions of the Paradisaic temptation. The society of the wilderness was of the most contrastive and representative character: the Spirit - Satan; wild beasts - angels. As to the "wild beasts" (peculiar to Mark), Plumptre says, "In our Lord's time these might include the panther, the bear, the wolf, the hyena, possibly the lion." The implied thought is partly that their presence added to the terrors of the temptation, partly that in his being protected from them there was the fulfillment of the promise in the very psalm which furnished the tempter with his chief weapon, that the true child of God should trample underfoot "the lion and the adder," the "young lion and the dragon" (Psalm 91:13). De Wette considers this to be "a mere pictorial embellishment." Lunge holds that Christ's attitude "is a sovereign and peaceful one towards the beasts: they dare not hurt the Lord of creation, nor do they flee before him. Jesus takes away the curse also from the irrational creation (Romans 8.)." As to the angels, we are not to regard them as assisting him in his conflict with Satan, but succouring him in his exhaustion after it. He holds his court, as it were, on the very battle-field. In token of his victory, heaven pours itself forth in its fairest and best on the spot that but a little before was the ante-chamber of hell. - M.
Parallel VersesKJV: And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.