The Spirit leads Jesus into the wilderness (Mk 1:12-1:12)

“The Spirit

Immediately drove him out

Into the wilderness.”

 

Καὶ εὐθὺς τὸ Πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει εἰς τὴν ἔρημον.

 

Both Matthew, chapter 4:1, and Luke, chapter 4:1, have the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into the desert just like here.  Having just received the Holy Spirit at his baptism with John, this same Holy Spirit immediately drove Jesus out (Καὶ εὐθὺς τὸ Πνεῦμα αὐτὸν ἐκβάλλει) into the wilderness (εἰς τὴν ἔρημον).  The Israelites had been in the wilderness during their exodus from Egypt.  John the Baptist was also preaching and baptizing in the desert wilderness.  The wilderness or the desert was a place of terror, not civilized.  The Holy Spirit and God the Father wanted Jesus to experience the difficulties of this desolate arid land.

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The fourth beatitude about righteousness (Mt 5:6-5:6)

“Blessed are

Those who hunger for righteousness,

Those who thirst for righteousness,

They shall be filled.”

 

μακάριοι οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην, ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ

 

The happy, blessed, and fortunate ones (μακάριοι) were those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness (οἱ πεινῶντες καὶ διψῶντες τὴν δικαιοσύνην).  They would not go away empty handed.  They would be satisfied or filled (ὅτι αὐτοὶ χορτασθήσοντ).  Isaiah, chapter 55:1-2 has an invitation to those without money to come to drink and eat.  They could have water, wine, milk and bread.  They would enjoy themselves at this banquet.  Matthew may have been referencing Psalm 107:4-9, where Yahweh had helped a small group of lost Israelites who were hungry and thirsty, while wandering in the desert.  He satisfied their thirst and filled their hunger with good food.  In their distress, they called out to Yahweh, who heard them.  He led them in a straight path to an inhabited town.  Thus, they gave thanks to Yahweh.  So too, those who hungered and thirsted for righteousness, the right way of doing things, would be satisfied or filled with this righteousness.

The devil leaves (Mt 4:11-4:11)

“Then the devil left him.

Suddenly,

Angels came.

They waited

On Jesus.”

 

Τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος, καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελοι προσῆλθον καὶ διηκόνουν αὐτῷ.

 

This ending is not quite the same as in Luke, chapter 4:13, where there were no angels. The show is over. The devil left Jesus (Τότε ἀφίησιν αὐτὸν ὁ διάβολος). He had failed to convince Jesus in any of these temptations. Jesus had passed his first test. As the devil left him, a number of angels came, as in 1 Kings, chapter 19:4-8, where an angel came to help Elijah when he was in the desert. The shadow of Elijah appears in many of the gospel stories. These angels came to wait on and care for Jesus (καὶ ἰδοὺ ἄγγελοι προσῆλθον καὶ διηκόνουν αὐτῷ). Score one for the good guys.

The Law

The Law, the Torah, or the Pentateuch, consisted of first five books that were developed over a number of years, but firmly established around 400 BCE.  The five books of the Pentateuch include Genesis, a 10th-5th century BCE writing about the pre-existence of the Israelites, and the particular stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The Exodus, finished around 450 BCE, recalls the story of Moses and how he led the Israelites out of Egypt for years in the desert.  Leviticus and Numbers, worked on between 550-400 BCE, lay out the particular codes, rules and regulations for the Israelites, as well the numbers of people that were involved in the exodus from Egypt.  Deuteronomy, developed in the 7th-6th century BCE, told the story of Moses in the wilderness with emphasis on the laws of the heart.  This Law or Torah explained the early or pre-history of the Israelites before they entered the promised land.  These books also contained all the commands, statutes, or rules for the Israelites after they entered the promised land.  All further Jewish developments were based on the Torah or the Law.

Jonah’s proclamation (Jon 3:4-3:4)

“Jonah began

To go into the city,

Going a day’s walk.

He cried out.

‘Forty days more,

Then Nineveh

Shall be overthrown!’”

The text does not say how long it took Jonah to get there, but he was certainly in the city.  He walked one day into the center of the city and began to cry out that Nineveh would be overthrown in 40 days.  Forty days was a common biblical number, since Noah’s trip during the flood was 40 days, while the Israelites spent 40 years in the desert.

The rebellion (Ezek 20:21-20:21)

“But the children

Rebelled

Against me.

They did not follow

My statutes.

They were not careful

To observe

My ordinances.

By their observance,

Everyone shall live.

They profaned

My Sabbath.”

This is the 3rd mention of a rebellion in this chapter. This time, even the children of those wandering in the desert rebelled. It seemed to be a major theme of Ezekiel in his history of the Israelites. In each case there was a rebellion. First there were those in Egypt, then those in the wilderness, and now the children of those in the wilderness. They failed to follow the statutes of Yahweh. They failed to observe his ordinances that gave life. Finally, they profaned his Sabbath.