The Temptation of Jesus

The Gospel of Mark – Part 4  

The Temptation of Jesus – Mark 1:12-13

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – July 21st, 2019


  • Temptation comes to all people, even to Jesus.  The question is not if it will come, but when and how.  Our response in those moments is critical and will determine if we will be ensnared by them or get free. 
  • Mark, in his rapid-fire fashion, moves from establishing who Jesus is to the ministry and role of John the Baptist, and then to the baptism and temptation of Jesus all in 13 verses.  Mark links the baptism to Jesus to the temptation of Jesus.  Here is what he records: 

Mark 1:12-13 ESV 
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him. 

  • We are using Mark’s account for our outline, so in this passage we see three actors and three actions.  The Spirit drives, the Devil tempts and the Angels minister. This will serve as our outline as we fill in details from the fuller accounts from Luke 4:1-13 and Matthew 4:1-11.

The Spirit drives

  • Jesus obediently fulfills the will of His Father in baptism, the Spirit empowers Him for ministry, and the Father affirms His identity.  After this the Spirit “immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” 
  • This is a weird way to start a ministry.  Don’t you think it would be better to start with something like “and then the Spirit drove Him into the population centers where Jesus preached, performed many miracles, and gained many followers.” But His ministry did not start this way. The Holy Spirit first led Him into the wilderness.  Why this first and why was this necessary?
  • There is and always will be a preparatory process in entering the ministry and next thing God has prepared for you. Always. This is a time of training, which includes self-discipline, self-denial and surrender in order to be able enter the new thing.  
  • It seemed “mean” for the Spirit to drive Jesus into the wilderness, however it was necessary to train Him and for Jesus to prove who He was in order for Him to pass into His next season of ministry.  Hebrews records this about Jesus:

Heb 5:8-9 ESV
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,

  • Perfection was “made perfect” through the process of suffering that came from obedience. Will you choose to obey God even though this obedience may cause you to suffer?  Will you submit to the leading of the Spirit and the will of the Father into suffering and temptation, trusting that in the process God is shaping you into His image? In the end God will give you something far better.  
  • The number of days that Jesus was tempted was not a number chosen at random.  Forty was intentionally chosen as the time period because this is the number that was used in the Old Testament for testing and preparation for what was coming next. For example:
    • The flood came upon the earth for 40 days. Noah and his family came through into a new start and a new season on the earth (Gen. 7:17).
    • Moses, on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, wrote the covenant and received the 10 commandments which was the start of a new season (Ex. 34:28, Deut. 9:11).
    • Moses again was on the mountain 40 days and nights because of the sin and stubbornness of the people (Deut. 9:13-29).
    • The people of God came to the promise land and 12 leaders were told to “spy out the land.” At the end of forty days they returned. It was a time of assessment and testing to see if they would trust God for the new thing and the next season (Num. 13:25).
    • Because the people failed the test, it took 40 years of humbling, cleansing and preparation before they were ready to enter the new thing that was promised (Num. 32:13, Deut. 8:2).
    • Forty was the limit of stripes the guilty could receive for punishment (Deut. 25:1-3).
    • The Israelites were taunted for 40 days by Goliath before God brought David to defeat him (1 Sam. 17:16). 
    • Elisha was sustained for 40 days before God spoke and directed him on Mt. Horeb (1 Kings 19:8-18).
  • Forty was a significant number in the Old Testament as the given time period of testing and preparation.  So, 40 was chosen for Jesus as well, connecting people with the unfolding plan of God as Jesus was to face the same tests as they did.  Also know that you will face similar times of testing and preparation in your life before it is time to enter the new thing. 
  • This time of testing in the wilderness was also accompanied by fasting.  Luke records:

Luke 4:1-3
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness 2 for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry.

  • Jesus also fasted during this time. Fasting is self-discipline and self-denial that is used to repair things from the past and to prepare us for the future (see Mark 2:18-22 – we will come to this in a future message).
  • The Holy Spirit will lead us into a time of restoration and preparation. The first thing we see is the Spirit driving and the second thing we see is the devil tempting. 

The devil tempts 

Mark 1:12-13 ESV 
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, 

  • One of the chief activities of the devil is to tempt and test people to commit sin (1 Cor. 7:5, 1 Thess. 3:5).  Here are a few things you need to know when it comes to temptation.
  • Temptation comes to everyone.
    • Even when you are doing God’s work – no matter how “holy” you are, you are not immune.  
    • Being tempted is not a sin. Giving in and acting upon it is. 
    • If Satan cannot destroy you from within – he will try to destroy you from without (temptation and persecution). Either way he is looking to destroy you (John 10:10).
  • Temptation comes when we are weak.
    • Jesus was weak physically and relationally when the devil came to tempt him. The devil is good at being evil. He is strategic when he attacks. He will always come at you when you are most vulnerable and weak.
  • Temptation comes with the promise of immediate gratification.

Matt 4:3-4 ESV
And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

  • Often if we are being tempted, the temptation is to use your power in a way to immediately fulfill your own needs and desires in a way that is outside the will and provision of God. 
  • Jesus could have used His power to fulfill a legitimate bodily appetite in an illegitimate way. He chose not to do so by appealing to the will of God written in the word of God saying that we are not just sustained in life by things but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Saying that God’s word is the highest priority is the most important thing in living.
  • Temptation comes with the promise of avoiding pain.

Matt 4:5-7 ESV
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you, ‘and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” 7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.'”  

  • The devil tempted Jesus to prove His identity as the Son of God by testing God’s promise of protection and love for Him by keeping Him from harm and pain. Also notice that the Devil knows scripture and will try to use it against you. This is another reason why it is important to know the whole counsel of God and understand scripture in the context of the passage and the whole bible. People say the bible says a whole lot of things that it never says, and the devil will use this against you. 
    • Demanding miraculous protection is not proof of your faith nor God’s care of you. God does not promise you that you will not have pain nor that there will always be divine protection.  Don’t ever put God to foolish tests but trust Him in “it is written.” 
  • Temptation comes with the promise of great gain.

Matt 4:8-10 ESV
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'”

  • Hey Jesus, you can have everything, if you worship me.  This temptation was the “short cut” version of getting the crown without the cross.  You can have all the glory without going through all the pain.  This is the same thing that Peter suggested to Jesus and then Jesus replied to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Mark 8:33 ESV).  
  • We are to worship and serve God over all other things, trusting Him to give us all good things.  Do not fall of the deception that you can circumvent the plan of God to get the good things of God.  People do this all the time- it leads to disaster and destruction.  Trusting, worshiping and serving God will always end well. 
  • The last thing we run into from our passage in Mark is God sending His angels to minister to Jesus.

The angels minister

Mark 1:12-13 ESV 
The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

  • After Jesus was tempted and successfully warded it off, God then sent His angels to minister to Him. God did not just leave Jesus there and tell Him to meet His own needs. God then provided for Him and ministered to Him. God knew Jesus had legitimate needs, and because Jesus trusted in God to provide for His needs in legitimate ways, God did. 
  • This is a good lesson for us as well.  Continue to use the word of God to keep us from temptation and then trust in the promises of God to provide for and reward you. God will provide your needs. 

Phil 4:19-20 ESV
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. 


  • The Spirit drives – God will send His Spirit to us and He will lead us according to the will of God.  Trust in the plan of God and continue to walk in the way of the Spirit. 
  • The devil tempts – know that he tempts us all, be aware of his strategy and resist him with the word of God and faith in His goodness.
  • The angels minister – God will minister to our needs with His messengers. He will not leave us or forsake us. 
  • Prayer (James 1:12)