This first Sunday of Lent always invites us to reflect on the start of Jesus’ ministry, on his baptism, and especially on his temptations. What is interesting this year is that the Gospel of Mark, which is the focus Gospel (along with John) this year, spends very little time on the baptism and temptation narratives. Mark is eager to get to the start of Jesus’ ministry, to the announcement that God’s Reign has arrived and is accessible to all.

However, Mark also knows that the ministry of Jesus, like all of those who seek to follow Jesus, needs preparation. In Jesus’ case, God prepares him in two ways. The first, which happened at his baptism, was the anointing with God’s Spirit and the affirming voice of God that proclaimed Jesus as God’s beloved Son in whom God was pleased. The second way Jesus was prepared for ministry was far less attractive—the testing in the wilderness. Note, that it is God who ‘drives’ Jesus to this time of trial. The reason for this was that, in order to fulfil his calling, Jesus needed to know himself honestly and thoroughly. If there was no desire in Jesus, no thought that perhaps he could do things differently than the way God asked, then this was not a real temptation. There must have been the possibility that he could fail—and he needed to see that possibility in himself, or he would not have had the strength to face the cross when the time came.

We need to be prepared for our tasks in the same way. We also receive God’s Spirit and God’s affirmation. But we also need to face our temptations. This week, we will be exploring the way in which God calls us to follow Christ in service of God’s Reign.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click here.