In the Lectionary

February 18, Lent 1B (Mark 1:9-15)

What good is a wilderness experience?

Every Ash Wednesday I talk about Lent as a journey that we take with God for the 40 days before Easter. A few days later, on the first Sunday of Lent, I am reminded that the number 40 isn’t arbitrary. In the Bible, Jesus goes out into the wilderness for 40 days, where he wrestles with faith and doubt. Mark says he is “tempted by Satan,” evil personified.

Forty days of being tested and tempted in the wilderness. At the end of it, Jesus emerges, but it doesn’t really get any easier. The greatest challenges are still to come.

You and I know how the story goes from here. We are journeying toward Easter. But to get to Easter you have to go through the cross and the tomb. Scholars debate how much Jesus knows at this early point in the story. I don’t know if he understands exactly how it will all go down, but I think he knows something big is about to happen. Something is coming that will test his will and resolve and faithfulness.