Sermon from the Gospel according to Mark | The Temptation of Jesus | Mark 1:12-13

The Temptation of Jesus (Mark 1:12-13)

Being from Kentucky, I believe in winning. After all, our basketball program has won more games than any other collegiate team in history. Kentucky also has more post-season appearances than any other team, but we are behind UCLA in all-time national titles. Plus, Kentucky is a place of prize-winning racehorses that are worth millions and millions of dollars.

As a kid in that atmosphere, I believed in winning; thus, as an elementary school student, I signed up to compete in every single field day race—from the 50-yard dash to the 150-yard dash. Our gym teacher, Mr. Scott, was a kind soul, and he always let me get 10 yards or so in front of the starting line for a head start. That didn’t help; I still came in last every race I ran.

You might have done better than I and actually won. Maybe in elementary school you won the spelling bee or the science fair. Maybe you led your high school sports team to victory over your rivals. Perhaps you won a drawing for a shopping spree at your favorite store. You might have even earned a nice award at work for exceptional service.

Those victories are nice but not nearly as important as Jesus’s victory over Satan when the devil tempted the Lord. Jesus’s victory in Mark’s account of his temptation foreshadows Jesus’s great victory over Satan, and from Mark you learn: “Jesus defeated Satan.

Scripture (Mark 1:12-13)

verse 12:

Jesus had just experienced a spiritual “high”: he has been baptized and anointed as the Christ with the Holy Spirit.

That Spirit “immediately drove him out into the wilderness.” People in Jesus’s day believed demons were really attracted to bathhouses, cemeteries, and deserts. The first people to read this Gospel would have gotten anxiety when they heard Jesus was being driven out into the wilderness—they would have expected Jesus to face demonic forces.

verse 13:

Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness, just as God tested Israel in the wilderness for 40 years. During those 40 years in the wilderness, Moses led God’s people out of bondage, and Jesus’s 40 days in the wilderness were preparation for him to lead God’s people out of the bondage of sin.

Jesus spent those 40 days “being tempted by Satan.” Mark used the present tense of the verb “tempt,” and he meant that Jesus was constantly tempted in the wilderness. Matthew and Luke gave three examples of Jesus’s temptations, but Mark’s grammar makes clear Jesus’s temptation never stopped during those 40 days.

Jesus spent those 40 days with the wild animals. Dwelling with wild beasts is a sign of divine protection. Remember God allowed his faithful servant Daniel to dwell with lions without being harmed. Jesus was likewise protected.

Jesus did not spend those 40 days alone: “The angels were ministering to him.” Angels are “ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation” (Heb 1:14), and they ministered to Jesus in the wilderness.


Jesus defeated Satan.” I’m confident that Satan tempted Jesus sore in the wilderness, for the devil knew that if he could get Jesus to sin, God’s entire plan of salvation was destroyed. However, Jesus withstood all Satan’s temptations, and “Jesus defeated Satan.

I wish you to understand that Jesus’s victory over Satan gives you hope. Since “Jesus defeated Satan,” what hope to do you have?

One: You have a Common Hope.

Temptation is the Common lot of all people. “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man” (1 Cor 10:13). Think about this: If Jesus faced temptation, how can you avoid being tempted? If Satan had the audacity to tempt God in the flesh, he will tempt you!

Don’t be ashamed over your temptations. Sure, you have temptations you’d be embarrassed for anyone else to know. Understand: Jesus had them, too. He “in every respect has been tempted as we are” (Heb 4:15). Every single temptation you face Jesus faced himself in some form or fashion. Find hope in knowing you are not alone, but that you have a Common temptation with Jesus.

Two: You have a Comforting Hope.

You have Comfort in temptation, for Jesus faced the same temptations you do, overcame them, and can now help you: Hebrews 4:14-16.

Because Jesus faced the same temptations you face, you can go to God’s throne for help. Ask for Jesus’s strength to overcome. Ask God to show you the promised way of escape. Ask Jesus to remind you that he has overcome temptation. Ask for the greatest power in the universe to come to your rescue.

You can go before God’s throne with confidence. Know beyond a doubt that God will hear you and that he will help you. When you’re tempted, go to the throne of grace and find the Comfort Jesus provides.

Three: You have a Conquering Hope.

Jesus Conquered temptation, and you, too, shall Conquer temptation. Jesus destroyed Satan:

  • Jesus never sinned: “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet 2:22).
  • Jesus was raised from the dead and conquered Satan’s domain: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 15:20).
  • Jesus came to destroy Satan:
    • “The ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me” (Jn 14:30).
    • “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8).

Since Jesus destroyed Satan, you can Conquer temptation. Several people, with help from the throne of grace, have Conquered temptation. Think of Saul of Tarsus—“a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent” (1 Tim 1:13)—who put that life away and became the apostle to the Gentiles. Think about the Corinthians: 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. The Corinthians put away idolatry and adultery and homosexuality and greed and drunkenness and became who God called them to be. You, with God’s help, can Conquer your temptations.

And, there is coming a great day when temptation shall be no more. When John described the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem, he wrote: “But nothing unclean will ever enter it” (Rev 21:27). Nothing unclean—including temptation—shall ever enter the heavenly city. When you enter that eternal heaven, you won’t need God’s help to overcome temptation, for temptation shall have been Conquered for all time.

But not everyone shall enter that great city: “Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27). Is your name written in the Lamb’s book of life this morning?

This sermon was originally preached by Dr. Justin Imel, Sr., at Church of Christ Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas.

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