When someone is preparing for their future occupation, there is a time of training. That often includes classroom instruction, on-the-job training, and work with a mentor. All of this is designed to get you ready for that future job. I know someone who is currently working toward becoming a journeyman electrician. The process will take several years but the process will eventually end with an exam that will determine if he passes the test.
During our last message, we saw how God prepared the way for Jesus’ ministry. He used the prophets to foretell his ministry. He also used John the Baptist to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the gospel. In today’s message, we will look at three more things about his preparation. They involve Him being verified at his baptism, the Holy Spirit training Him in the wilderness, and how well-prepared He was for His early ministry.
- He was verified at his baptism (Mark 1:9-11).
Before someone announces himself as a candidate for political office, he is vetted. People look into the candidate’s background, writings, social media posts, and pretty much everything that he has ever done or said. The candidate is only given the green light to run when the vetting process has been completed. They are then verified as someone who could make it through the rigors of the candidating process.
While Jesus was not running for political office, He was put through a vetting process that included baptism and temptation. First, let’s consider the events that transpired during his baptism.
Jesus was baptized by John.
As you may recall, John the Baptist was preaching repentance to the people near Jerusalem. He told them to prepare themselves for the coming of Jesus by repenting of their sins. The other gospels give examples of people who came out to see him. When asked how to repent, he gave them specific examples of what that would look like. He said things like: (1) Give to those in need, (2) don’t overcharge, (3) don’t make false accusations, and (4) be content with your wages (Luke 3:10-14).
When Jesus came to be baptized by John the Baptist, there was a bit of a problem. Jesus was the sinless Son of God. Since He had never sinned, how could John baptize Him?
“Mark did not state why Jesus submitted to John’s baptism: However, three reasons may be suggested: (1) It was an act of obedience, showing that Jesus was in full agreement with God’s overall plan and the role of John’s baptism in it (cf. Matt. 3:15). (2) I was an act of self-identification with the nation of Israel whose heritage and sinful predicament He shared (cf. Isa. 53:12). (3) It was an act of self-dedication to His messianic mission, signifying His official acceptance and entrance into it.”1
I think the best explanation is that Jesus took part in the baptism to identify himself with what it represented. As the One who would eventually pay the price for our sins on the cross, it was good for Him to identify with God’s plan so that others would follow His example. “By means of his voluntary submission to baptism, Jesus had signified his entire willingness to accomplish the task assigned to him, namely, to suffer and die in his people’s stead.”12
Jesus was anointed by the Spirit.
After being baptized by John, Jesus came up out of the water and something supernatural took place. The sky was torn apart and the Holy Spirit came down on Jesus like a dove. What did this mean? “In Old Testament times the Spirit came on certain people to empower them for service (e.g., Ex. 31:3; Jud. 3:10; 11:29; 1 Sam. 19:20, 23). The coming of the Spirit on Jesus empowered Him for His messianic mission.”1 This was a visible sign that Jesus was filled with the Spirit and enabled to serve God.
Jesus was verified by the Father.
At that same time, a voice was heard from heaven. It was God the Father voicing His approval for His Son. He said, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The Father made several things very clear. (1) Jesus was the Son of God, (2) Jesus was loved by the Father, and (3) the Father was pleased with Jesus. After hearing this statement spoken from heaven, there was no doubt who Jesus was and that He was approved by God.
Application: Who do you think Jesus is? Many believe that Jesus was someone who went about doing good and performing miracles. Some believe Jesus was a great teacher that could keep the attention of the crowds. While those things are true, we have discovered something more about Jesus. He is the Son of God who was approved by God. As we look read through the rest of the Gospel of Mark, we will see more evidence that Jesus is the Son of God and the plan God had for Him to accomplish.
- He was trained by the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:12-13).
The second part of the vetting process for Jesus was His temptation in the wilderness. “He was among the wild beasts. … The Jordan valley and the adjacent wilderness have been known as the haunt of hyenas, jackals, panthers, and even lions. … The region where Jesus fasted and was tempted was therefore the scene of abandonment and peril.”13 If He could survive this period of forty days of temptation in such harsh conditions, He would be ready for public ministry.
Jesus was led by the Spirit.
Verse 12 tells us that the Spirit immediately drove Jesus into the wilderness. The language used here is strong. He was quickly pushed into the wilderness to go through this last phase of training. For forty days, Jesus would endure lack of food, temptation, and struggles. But all of this was part of the Holy Spirit’s plan to get Jesus ready for ministry.
Does it seem strange that the Spirit led Jesus to a place where He would be tempted? What we don’t always recognize is that God has a plan that often involves testing. “God put Jesus to the test (the Spirit led Him to it) to show He was qualified for His messianic mission.2
Jesus was tempted by Satan.
In verse 13, we learn that Satan was tempting Jesus during those forty days in the wilderness.
Who is Satan?
“The name Satan is derived from a Hebrew word meaning ‘adversary.’ … It is the personal name of that mighty spiritual being who is the head of the kingdom of evil and is engaged in constant warfare against God’s kingdom.”7 He is the enemy of God and was eager to destroy the Son of God.
What did Satan do?
The language used by Mark seems to indicate “that Jesus was repeatedly subjected to temptation during the entire period. … The three temptations, described in Matthew and Luke, came when Jesus was exhausted and at His weakest as the mighty climax in Satan’s assaults against Jesus.”7 Satan tried every trick in the book to cause Jesus to sin and turn away from God’s plan. Somehow, he knew that Jesus’ ministry would pull people from their sin to God. And he didn’t want that to happen.
1 John 3:8 – “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.”
What did Jesus do?
Jesus faced many of Satan’s temptations, but He did not give in to any of them (see Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus fought against “the prince of evil personally before confronting his forces. He entered on His ministry to defeat him and set his captives free (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8).”2 As we go through the rest of the chapter, you will see how Jesus often cast out demons from possessed people. This was part of his spiritual battle against the evil one and his minions.
Jesus was cared for by angels.
During this time, Jesus was alone and away from other people. But he was not left alone without any care. The angels of God ministered to Him during this difficult time. “The precise nature of the angelic service is not certain; it may include the supply of physical as well as spiritual needs.”8
Application: When you are tempted to sin, remember what we have seen here today. Jesus went through the same temptations we face today.
Hebrews 4:15 – “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Application: When it seems that temptation is too strong for you to resist, call out to Jesus for help. He knows what it is like to be tempted and how to resist without sinning. He will help you.
- He was well prepared to begin His ministry (Mark 1:14-15).
At the end of the forty days, Jesus had passed every test. He had been empowered by the Holy Spirit and verified by God the Father. He had also endured forty days of temptation alone in the wilderness. And in all of these things, He had shown Himself to be sinless and capable of completing God’s plan for Him on earth. Now that He was prepared, what would happen next?
Jesus was left alone.
When we began the chapter, John the Baptist was preaching repentance from sin. It would seem that he and Jesus would be great partners in ministry. But something had already changed. “Jesus began His ministry in Galilee (cf. Mark 1:9) after John the Baptist was arrested by Herod Antipas … for the reason stated in Mark 6:17-18. … The time for Jesus’ ministry in Galilee had now come.”3
If you are not familiar with what happened to John the Baptist, I will give you a quick summary. John the Baptist was a preacher of repentance from sin. And he didn’t hold back due to someone’s position in society. He actually told a king that he was committing adultery by taking and marrying his brother’s wife. As you can imagine, this didn’t go over very well. John was arrested and placed in prison.
But God’s plan would still be fulfilled. John had prepared the way for Jesus and His time had finally come. It was time for John the Baptist to exit and Jesus to enter the ministry. “The time was fulfilled.” So what did Jesus do? The first thing Jesus did was to leave the area of Jerusalem and return to Galilee. There he began preaching a specific message.
Jesus preached the good news.
What did Jesus preach about? There were two parts to his message: (1) the kingdom was near, and (2) people needed to repent and believe the good news.
The kingdom was near.
If you were a Jewish person who lived at that time, Jesus’ message would have been exciting. Jesus told them that the kingdom of God was at hand or was drawing near. For people whose land had been conquered by Rome, this would have been extremely good news. But what they expected and what Jesus announced were two different things.
“They were expecting a future messianic (Davidic) kingdom to be established on the earth. … Jesus’ hearers naturally understood His reference to the kingdom of God to be the long-awaited messianic kingdom. … But it was not near in the form the Jews expected. Rather it had arrived in the sense that Jesus, the Agent of God’s rule, was present among them.”3
While they understood Jesus to be announcing the kingdom’s soon arrival, Jesus was actually telling them that He had arrived. He, the future King of Israel, had arrived and was preparing people for the kingdom.
“Jesus taught that His earthly Davidic reign would not come immediately (cf. Luke 19:11). After God completes His present purpose of saving Jews and Gentiles and building His church (cf. Rom. 16:25-27; Eph. 3:2-12), Jesus will return and set up His kingdom on this earth (Matt. 25:31, 34; Acts 15:14-18; Rev. 19:15; 20:4-6).”4
The Bible does teach that Jesus will reign over all the earth at a future, unrevealed date. But that time was not then and is not now. It will happen when God completes His purposes. At the right time, Jesus will return in the sky to take all believers to be with Him in heaven (1 Thess. 4:13-18). After that, there will be 7 years of Tribulation where God judges unbelievers on the earth (Rev. 6-18). At the end of those years, Jesus will return to the earth to defeat His enemies and begin His earthly kingdom for 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-6).
Knowing that these things are going to happen? How does someone prepare themselves for Jesus’ coming kingdom on earth?
The proper response.
Because the kingdom was drawing near, they “were urged to enter into it by meeting the conditions which immediately followed.”9 Jesus told the people to repent and believe the gospel.
Repentance – The first proper response is repentance. To be a part of God’s future kingdom, each individual must repent of sin. In other words, each of us must recognize our sin and turn from it to God. “Genuine repentance prepares the heart for true faith in the gospel.”11
Believe – The second proper response is to believe the good news. At this point, Jesus was not asking them to believe that he died for them and rose again. They didn’t know about that because it hadn’t happened yet. Instead, they were to believe what Jesus was saying. They needed to believe that the kingdom was at hand and then make themselves ready for it.
Can you imagine the excitement this must have produced in Galilee? The people must have looked at Jesus with wide eyes. Could it possibly be true? Was the kingdom drawing near? Who is this Jesus? As they listened to His preaching, they would eventually get answers to all of their questions.
As we study the Gospel of Mark in the coming weeks, we will learn more about this Jesus. He was not merely a man. He was and is the Son of God. But you will have to come to your own conclusion about Him. Let me encourage you to continue this study with me. Read ahead in the Gospel of Mark. You can click here to begin your reading in chapter one, but feel free to read the whole book. As you read, ask God to help you to understand what is being said. But most of all, think about what the Bible says about Jesus. I hope that someday you will believe that He is who He says He is—the Son of God who loved us and gave His life for us.
1 Grassmick 105.
2 Grassmick 106.
3 Grassmick 107.
4 Grassmick 107-08.
5 Grassmick 108.
6 Hiebert 35.
7 Hiebert 36.
8 Hebert 37.
9 Hiebert 42.
10 Hiebert 44.
11 Hiebert 45.
12 Hendriksen 45.
13 Hendriksen 48.
Grassmick, John D., “Mark” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, USA: SP Publications, 1983.
Hendriksen, William, Mark, Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004.
Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Gospel of Mark, Greenville: Bob Jones University Press, 1994.