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WITH THE WILD ANIMALS

The Gospel of Mark begins like thunder, with the prophecy of Isaiah and the ministry of John the Baptist. In rapid succession Mark runs through the events leading up to the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness. Then Mark rushes on without giving us the details of His temptation found in Matthew and Luke. But he gives a quiet detail not found in the other Gospels. Look with me at Mark 1:13

“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”

What does it mean that Jesus was with the wild animals? I think we can see some implications of this. And in bringing these out I need to admit that these are only implied. They may not be completely accurate. But they are worth thinking about.

First, this implied courage. Wild animals are dangerous. Wolves and wild dogs ran in packs in Israel in those days. Syrian Brown Bears were still in the area, as were many kinds of poisonous serpents. Weakness was a major part of our Lord's incarnation. And His vulnerability was at the heart of His temptation in the wilderness. To automatically assume that God would have protected Him would be very like the Muslim reason for not believing Jesus died on the cross. They say God would not have allowed His prophet to die in such a shameful way.

You also have to assume that Jesus was quiet. One important difference between humans and animals in the wild is quiet. Both predators and prey make very little noise. I suspect some of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness was agonizing. But Matthew 12 quotes from Isaiah 42.

“He will not quarrel or cry aloud,

   nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;

a bruised reed he will not break,

   and a smouldering wick he will not quench,

until he brings justice to victory.”

If He was not quiet, Jesus wouldn't have seen wild animals.

And we have to assume Jesus could be still. I have a nephew who could coax animals to come to him when he was a child. I saw a black squirrel climb up his leg as he sat on a bench in a park in Vancouver, BC. They wouldn't come within 40 feet of other people. He was not old enough to start school when, on a visit with us, he caught a mouse in his hand. The mouse did bite him. But I couldn't have caught the mouse with a net. And whatever characteristics went into his unusual ability, the most obvious was persistent stillness. Jesus must have been very still as well.

Jesus must also have been at peace. Animals can sense when humans around them are disturbed. And they respond appropriately. Jesus had to have been somewhat disturbed by temptation. But at least between times of trial, He must have had an underlying peace that the animals could sense.

And of course He must have shown great tenderness toward the animals. Few things demonstrate the depravity of man as clearly as cruelty to animals.

I believe all this gives evidence of our Lord's authority over nature. There is not a great deal of difference in-kind here, from His ability to walk on water, calm a storm, or heal the sick. But if we think of His authority, as we sometimes think of human authority, overpowering those to whom it is applied, I believe we are thinking wrong. In Matthew 11 Jesus called to us with the same authority, that He said at the end of Matthew's Gospel had been given Him over Heaven and Earth. But in Matthew 11:28-30 He invites us.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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http://watchinginprayer.blogspot.com/

http://thinkinginthespirit.blogspot.com/

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