Mark’s Gospel tells us that Jesus “was in the wilderness forty days.” For readers of Hebrew Scripture, those words bring important stories to mind. The Israelites, set free from Egyptian slavery, journeyed forty years to the Promised Land. Moses spent forty days on Mount Horeb, and later Elijah traveled forty days and forty nights to the same place. These times were filled with instruction in the ways of God. Israel, Moses, and Elijah all needed to decide the kind of path they would follow. Would they live trusting God, or would they follow their own desires? Jesus faced the same kind of experience; in doing so, he is identified as a crucial figure in Israel’s encounter with God.
Later in the Gospel, Mark tells a story that established him as the central figure. Jesus, with three of his disciples, go to a mountain top. There he is transfigured; his clothes become glistening white; and he is seen in conversation with Moses and Elijah. Then a cloud descends over them, and when the cloud lifts, the disciples see only Jesus, while a voice says, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”
Gracious God, driven by your Spirit, your Son underwent severe testing so that he might know the true way to follow you. Guide us by that same Spirit, that we might remain true to you in the midst of temptation. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.