Into the Wilderness with Jesus

Theme: Preparing ourselves for following Christ. 1st Sunday in Lent (Yr. B)
Object: No object is needed.
Scripture: At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. Mark 1:12-13 (NIV)

Do you remember the baptism of Jesus? Let's see how much we can remember about the baptism of Jesus.

Who baptized Jesus? (John)
Where was Jesus baptized? (Jordan River)
As Jesus came out of the water, what happened? (The Spirit descended like a dove and settled on him)
A voice was heard from heaven. What did it say? ("You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.")
Do you know what happened next? (Wait for an answer. They probably don't know.)

You know, a lot of people don't know what happened next, but our Bible lesson today tells us what happened next. The Bible tells us that immediately after Jesus was baptized, the Spirit led him out into the wilderness. What does that mean? A wilderness area is an area where there are no towns, no people, no roads, few trees or plants, and, in this particular case, it was very hot and dry. That doesn't sound like a very good place to be, does it? Well, it wasn't, but that's not all! The Bible tells us that Jesus was there for forty days and while he was there, he was tempted by Satan and was surrounded by wild animals but angels took care of him.

Why do you think Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan? He was led there by the Spirit so that He could be alone with God to think about his work and pray over his future plans. Through fasting and prayer, he prepared himself to travel the hard road that lay ahead. This was a time that Jesus had to endure before he could call his followers and begin his earthly ministry by calling his disciples to come and follow him.

Today is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. What is Lent? Lent is the forty days (not counting Sundays) leading up the celebration of Easter. It is a time when we pray and think about all that Jesus has done for us. Some people observe lent by giving up something that they like very much such as eating candy, playing video games, watching TV, or going to the movies. Others observe Lent by trying to concentrate on doing good for other people such as giving to the poor, visiting the sick, collecting canned goods for the Church food pantry, or doing chores for a neighbor. These are good things to do, but most of all, Lent is a time when we focus on the call of Jesus when he said, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) Just as Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness in preparation for his ministry. Lent is a good time for us to draw closer to God and dedicate ourselves to following Jesus.

Heavenly Father, just as Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness to prepare for doing your work on earth, help us to use this special time of the year to prepare our hearts for serving you in our world. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

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