The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.
After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’Mk 1:12-15
Jesus’ forty days in the desert (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-15; Lk 4:1-13) provides the Scriptural foundation for the Liturgical Season of Lent, a time of penance and great spiritual renewal. Just as Jesus took time to prepare himself for the beginning of his public ministry we use Lent as a form of penitential preparation for the great celebration of Easter. Central to this preparation is that we “repent, and believe the Good News”, i.e. we have a conversion of heart.
Amidst the busyness of our lives, it is paramount that we slow down to recognise the need for such a conversion. All too frequently we are oblivious to our shortcomings and the impact that they have on others; we are often unaware that God has been “forgotten” by us, and our relationship with him neglected. Lent is not only a time of penance and preparation, it is a time of prayer, a time to “be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Jesus’ time in the desert models this for us. He sought aloneness to reflect, to pray, to be with his Father, and to prepare for the events ahead of him. In itself this paralleled with Moses’ forty days in the wilderness (Deut 9:9), a time of fasting, and of preparing to receive God’s revelation in the Ten Commandments. Throughout the Scriptures, both Hebrew and Christian, we are constantly reminded of the centrality of prayer to spiritual renewal.
Just as Jesus’ 40 days in the desert served as a preparation for his mission, ministry and suffering it serves as a model for the way in which our Lenten journey can be a time of or spiritual renewal and preparation for true Christian discipleship.
Director: mission and Identity