These are my notes from a sermon series I did though the gospel of Mark. It has not been proofed for grammatical or spelling errors. I present it to you as-is.
Following Jesus equals adversity. Albert Einstein once said, “Adversity introduces a person to himself.” When you go through adversity you will find out what you are really made of and what you truly believe.
When you go through adversity you need to remember 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned, by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (NLT). Listen carefully, the devil is going to come along and he is going to huff and puff and try to blow your house down. There are going to be times you will feel pressure from all the troubles in your life and feel perplexed and confused about what God is doing or not doing and feel like you are being left alone by God and then there are those times you get knocked down and the wind gets knocked out of you. But you will not be crushed, you will not be driven by despair, you are not abandoned by God, and will not be destroyed. Because you are in Christ, the best is yet to come. The best years of your life are not behind, they are ahead of you.
Will life be easy? No. You are in a battle. You are a soldier of Christ in a war. You have an enemy that would love to steal, kill, and destroy everything about you that honors God. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith” (NLT). The devil is after you. He is wanting to destroy anything and anyone that honors Jesus. This battle has been going on way before you were ever born. As a matter of fact, as soon as Jesus was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove and the Heavenly Father said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy” (Mark 1:11, NLT) the Spirit of God led Jesus into the wilderness where He would battle the devil fact to face.
Mark 1:12-13 says, The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him (NLT). Here we see some lessons for life and some truths about Jesus that we need hold on to tightly.
Verse 12 begins with the two words, “The Spirit.” This is referring to the Holy Spirit. Luke 4:1 give us a little more insight when it says, Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River. He was led by the Spirit in the wilderness (NLT). Being filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus fully submitted Himself to the Spirit’s control.
The Holy Spirit was given to you to teach you and guide and to help you through life. According to Galatians 5:22 when you are full of the Holy Spirit your life produces things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control regardless of the situation or circumstance. That’s exactly what you will see Jesus doing throughout the gospel of Mark.
Mark goes on to say, “the Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness.” The word “compelled” (ekballo) is a forceful word, meaning “to drive out” or “to force one to depart.” This does not imply that Jesus was resistant to the Spirit’s leading. It refers to more of a holy urge, a holy drive, or holy force that is a like a call that cannot be resisted. The Holy Spirit was compelling Jesus to go to the wilderness.
Go into the wilderness
Mark goes on to say “the Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness.” The “wilderness” is a place of desolation where he was removed from people and provision. In a very short period of time, His circumstances had dramatically changed. Jesus felt an inexorable compulsion from the Holy Spirit to plunge further into the wilderness to duel Satan. Heaven had opened. Now Hell opened. During Bible times people saw the wilderness as a place of danger, gloom, and the place of demons. The mention of “wild animals” underscores this idea – the wilderness was a place of loneliness and danger, the realm of Satan.
Where he was tempted by Satan for forty days
Mark goes on to say, The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. This encounter between Jesus and Satan was the greatest combat that has ever taken place on the face of the earth, and by far the most important. If Jesus had failed at any point, we would have no hope of resisting temptation or of receiving salvation. Jesus was victorious.
Within God’s purposes, it was necessary for Jesus to be tempted by Satan himself – to confront the devil in face-to-face combat and defeat him. The word “tempted” (peirazo) is a morally neutral term that simply means “to test.” The testing can be either good or evil depending on the intention of the one devising the test. Because Satan is the one doing the testing in this instance, it is a temptation.
Although the Spirit led Jesus to the place where He would be tempted, it is important to note that God is never the tempter. James 1:13 is clear that God cannot tempt anyone. It’s like this, you get saved and God leads you into a ministry to help others. While helping others you are going to encounter various testings and temptations. While doing that ministry it will be up to you regarding how you respond. God led you into the ministry, into that combat, into the spiritual warfare over the lives of others and just because you encounter temptations there does not mean God has led you into temptation. God allowed His Son to be tested for the sole purpose that through His victory Jesus might demonstrate His absolute power and authority over the devil’s devices.
Mark only summarizes what happened with his statement. However, Matthew and Luke give greater detail into this encounter. As you will you see, each round of spiritual combat between Jesus and the devil show us the three main areas the devil will confront you on as well. Let’s take a brief look this.
The devil will challenge you on the will of God.
First, the devil will challenge you regarding the will of God. The devil will try to get you to step out of the will of God in any area of your life. Matthew 4:3 says, During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (NLT) The devil is telling Jesus that His physical needs and comfort are more important than the will of God. The devil is saying, “Jesus, I know you are hungry and I know you can turn these stones that look like bread into real bread. So do it, make your life easier.” The devil was trying to get Jesus to use His divine powers for selfish reasons. The devil was using a basic need like hunger and food to get Jesus to abandoned God’s plan.
The devil is trying the same thing on you and me. The devil is trying to get you to believe that your happiness is more important that God’s plan. Your comfort is more important than God’s will. Your needs trumps whatever God is doing. The devil will use whatever he can to distract you from the will of God. He will use some basic things like relationships, money, things, or comfort. The devil is saying, “I know what you want and you can have it and you don’t have to get it God’s way. Do it my way and it will be easier and quicker.” This is a battle over the will of God. Are you going to do it God’s way or your way?
What was Jesus’ response to this? Jesus told the devil, “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” In other words, what God wants is more important than what I want. His plan trumps my plan. I’m going to live by His Word not my wants. This takes us to number 2.
The devil will challenge you on the Word of God.
Number two, the devil will challenge you regarding the Word of God. Let’s say you get on fire for God. You are reading His Word. You are growing spiritually. You are trying to base your life and decisions on what God says. The devil will come along and try to use that against you. This is Jesus’ second battle with the devil. Listen to Matthew 4:5 which says, “Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” (NLT) This is a direct battle over the Word of God. At the end of the first challenge, Jesus quoted God’s Word to the devil. So the devil says, “Ok, since you intend to live by God’s Word let me quote You a verse of Scripture and see if You will obey it!” So the devil took Jesus to the highest point of the Temple and told him to jump off. Do something miraculous so people can see and let them see God do a miracle for you then they will know how great God is and that you are the Son of God. Trying to convince Jesus to do this selfish act (that’s out of the will of God) Satan quoted from Psalm 91:11-12 where God promised to care for His own.
So let’s take a close look at the Scripture the devil is quoting. The actual verse Satan quoted, Psalm 91:11-12, says this, For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone (NLT). The devil quoted Psalm 91 perfectly except for three little words, “wherever you go.” Based on the context of Psalm 91 those three words mean “wherever you go [in the will of God].” When you are doing what God wants you to do, God is going to protect you. What the devil is trying to do is to get Jesus to do something out of the will of God but camouflage it as if it came from God.
Satan quotes Psalm 91:11-12 in a way exactly opposite to the original meaning. Psalm 91 is an exhortation to trust in God; Satan attempts to replace trust with a test, casting doubt on God’s faithfulness and His Word.
This is why it is important to know God’s Word. The devil will use the Word of God to confuse you and to mislead you. He will twist God’s Word and water it down for you in order for you to think you are living by God’s Word when in reality you are living by the devil’s.
Jesus’ responded by saying, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Jesus knows what the devil is doing. So Jesus reminds the devil that we should make sure we have a good understanding of God’s Word for our lives and not place ourselves into circumstances that force God to work miracles on our behalf. Let me give you some examples:
- It’s like the diabetic who refuses to take insulin and argues, “Jesus will take care of me.”
- It’s like the alcoholic who says I don’t need Celebrate Recovery, I only need Jesus.
- It’s like the Christian who believes God wants him to give away all his money, but doesn’t have money to pay his bills.
- It’s like when you expect God to do something and He doesn’t do it, so you get mad at Him.
This is a battle for the Word of God. The devil will do whatever He can to get you to misapply God’s Word, misunderstand God’s Word, or to ignore it all together.
The devil will challenge you on the worship of God.
The devil will challenge you on the will of God, the Word of God and third, the devil will challenge you on the worship of God. Matthew 4:8 says, Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” (NLT)
This deals with the battle over the worship of God and who is ultimately in charge. The devil is saying, “I can give you all you want and deserve, but you have to do it my way. Just ignore God. My way is easier and you don’t have to suffer to get it. If you will follow me I can give you everything you want.” At this point, Jesus had had enough and said, “Get out of here, Satan. The Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”
Here’s the point, whatever you adore, whatever you focus on, and whatever consumes your thoughts and heart is what you worship and eventually serve. Whatever you make number 1 in your life is what you are going to serve. This is why it is so important to make sure that you are a true worshiper who worships God in spirit and truth.
Luke gives us a little more insight at the end of this test when Luke 4:13 says, When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came (NLT). Fighting the devil’s schemes, temptation, traps, and devices is a life-long battle. He is relentless. Just like with Jesus, the devil will look for the another “opportunity” to devour you.
And angels took care of him
Back to Mark 1:12-13, The Spirit then compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness, 13 where he was tempted by Satan for forty days. He was out among the wild animals, and angels took care of him (NLT). When it was all over with, angels took care of Jesus. They ministered to Him brought Him food and gave Him encouragement.
Let me say that whenever you go through a difficult time of testing God is going to take care of you. He may send an angel (and you may not be aware of it) or place people in your life to love on you, bless you, serve you, and bless you in many ways.
1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith” (NLT). You are in a battle. Your greatest weapons are the will of God, the Word of God, and the worship of God.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We re perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned, by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed” (NLT). When you fall, don’t give up, but get up. When you feel the pressure from the troubles in life know that greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world. You will feel abandoned remind yourself that God says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Stay faithful. Stay strong. Stay encouraged.