Mark 1:9–15 (NRSV)
Verse 9In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Verse 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. Verse 11And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." Verse 12And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. Verse 13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.
Verse 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, Verse 15and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news."
When people think of the Holy Spirit’s fruits, they often think of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc.—and not without good reason (see Galatians 5:22–23). The Spirit energizes and enlightens, comforts and encourages. All of this is true. But Mark 1 reminds us that the Spirit also drives us into the world where we encounter adversity, resistance, and temptation. Immediately after his baptism, the Spirit “drove” Jesus into the wilderness, where he was tempted by Satan. Lent offers us a time to reconsider how we think and talk about the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s work is manifold and powerful. But one thing is certain: like the Israelites, we will be led into the wilderness, where faith is tested and adversity is certain. But like Jesus, we enter that wilderness with the same baptismal promise Jesus received: “You are the beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Gracious God, thank you for accompanying us in the wilderness, where we face all manner of adversity, temptation, and resistance. Give us strength to trust you. Amen.