JESUS IN THE WILDERNESS (Mt 4:12-17 and parallels)
Why does the Spirit want Jesus to immediately head for the wilderness? – urgent need to digest the experience before it fades, away from the distractions of his old life, and examine its meaning for his new life.
What is a wilderness? – unexplored/unknown, uncivilised, sensual territory, where one is isolated, alone without help, vulnerable.
Note the use of the word “drive” in Mark, compared to “led” in Mt & Lk.(Doc.Q) Which is more likely? – ‘drive’ gives a sense of urgency and importance that ‘led’ doesn’t convey.
What do you notice about Mark’s account? – It is much, much shorter.
Look at Mk.1:13b. What do “wild beasts and angels” represent? – aspects of one’s psyche representing resources available to help cope; in this case, ‘beasts’ can represent instinctual strengths, while ‘angels’ represent ways of connecting with the ‘self’ at one’s centre which, in Carl Jung’s terms, is the site connection with the Divine and the collective unconscious.
Who are your wild beasts and angels? (Example: beasts – instinctual survival reactions; angels – music)
What questions did Jesus bring with him into the wilderness? – What did my baptism experience mean? What am I to do now? Who am I?
What is the issue in Mt. 4:8-10? – political power
What is the issue in Mt.4:5-7? – supernatural miracle worker
What is the issue in Mt.4:3-4? – an economic provider, eg. who feeds the hungry
How would a Jew of this era viewed these options? – they are traditional expectations of the messiah
What are the implications of “every word… of God” Mt. 4:4 – God is Jesus’ absolute authority
What was going on in Jesus that pushed him to say ‘No’? – Perhaps hearing he is God’s “beloved son” with whom God is “well pleased” has inspired Jesus to strive to live up to God’s opinion of him, and make God’s Law his guide. Perhaps he is answering a ‘call’ from the Spirit within to respond to his highest self, and not settle for mere human inducements for power, fame and adoration.
Which one is most tempting for you at this moment? Write it down – this will vary from person to person and, for any given person, may vary from day to day. Pick one and reflect upon its relevance and importance to your life.
Who is the tempter? – Satan.
When is he called by name? – He is recognised at the end, after the temptations have been pondered and discerned as lesser ways to go.
What does this imply? – the temptations were considered positively by Jesus, i.e. he really was tempted and thought about taking up these offers. But when he examined them in light of his understanding of God’s will, he came to understand that they were meant to distract him from his role.
Who is Satan? – Lucifer, meaning ‘lightbringer’, devil’s advocate, God’s right-hand, forcing Jesus to look at these issues. For more information about this, see “Satan” under “Words of the Word” on this site.
There are three players in this drama, a human, the Spirit and Satan. What is the relationship between Satan and the Spirit? – they work together to help the human to an understanding of his role.
What is this encounter pushing for? – judgment, discernment, consciousness of possibilities, choice-making now.
What is the role of the human here? – to discern, to choose and to act.
At the end of the wilderness time, what does Jesus know and what does he not know? – he knows who he is not (messiah), but does not know who he is.
What are the implications of Lk 4:13? – Satan/temptations will return
JESUS TEACHING THROUGHOUT GALILEE (Mk.1:35-39 and parallels)
What does Jesus conceive his role to be in Mk.1:38? – a preacher
JESUS GOES TO NAZARETH Lk.4:16-30
Go to Lk.4:17-18 – Who is the spokesperson in vs. 18 & 19? – the prophet Isaiah
In what situation? – the Babylonian captivity
What is the purpose of the words? – to give hope to a captive people
What does Jesus say about himself? – he understands himself as a bearer of the good news of Isaiah
Is this a messianic text or a prophetic text? – prophetic
JESUS FINDS FOUR FISHERS OF MEN, Mk.1:16-20 and parallels
In Mt. and Mk, why did the fishermen follow? – because Jesus called them
Why do they follow in Luke? – because of the miracle. This is first report of a miracle in the Gospels.
What are all the possibilities giving rise to this story? –
Jesus was in tune with the natural order sufficiently to understand where the fish are OR
Jesus got lucky OR
it is a story made up by someone to explain why the fishermen followed OR
it was a supernatural event. However, with regard to this last one, Jesus had refused to be a miracle worker when offered this power by Satan, so it is unlikely to use such tricks to get disciples.
Did the miracle happen? – no, unless Jesus gave in to the temptation.
Why did Mt. choose to follow Mk here and leave out this outstanding event? – he didn’t know this story, because it was just a local story in Luke’s community.
What is your opinion on miracles? – Everyone is justified in having their own opinion on this, but Jesus’s refusal to be a miracle-worker when tempted in the wilderness suggests that miracle stories are just that – stories.
What is Peter doing in Lk. 5:8? Why? – He is seeing himself in comparison with what he is challenged to be by Jesus, and is trying to run away because he feels unworthy or not up to the task or afraid of it. “Depart from me.” = “Get out of my life; don’t challenge me to change it.”
Mime what it feels like to resist Jesus’ call. Do you feel the stress in your body? Where? Record your emotions: fear? anxiety? anger? …?
EARLY POPULAR OPINIONS ABOUT JESUS – Mk.1:21-28 and parallels
What is Jesus doing? – teaching in the synagogue
What is the reaction? – people are amazed
What does it mean to teach with authority? – have an aura of competence, conviction, understanding and knowledge that creates the ‘ring of truth’ in the hearers.
In modern language, who does Jesus encounter? – a person with a mental illness, a drunk or an alcoholic suffering the DTs, someone stoned ‘out of their mind’ or an addict suffering withdrawal.
What does the Spirit fear? – change, healing, disempowerment
What does he call Jesus? – Messiah (“The Holy One of God”)
Which strand? – apocalyptic
What is Jesus response? – the Greek word translated as ‘rebuke” has the connotation of a verbally violent response, i.e Jesus is angry.