40 days in the wilderness

Tue, 20/05/2008 - 08:45 -- James Oakley

Why does Jesus spend forty days in the wilderness, confronting public enemy number 1 (Satan, the accuser of the people of God), immediately after he has been declared Son of God (echoing Psalm 2) at his baptism?

I know that one answer is that it relates to the 40 years Israel spent in the wilderness. Jesus must be faithful at the exact point at which they failed.

But could it also relate to 1 Samuel 17:16?

“For forty days the Philistine came forward and took his stand, morning and evening.”

Don’t know.

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Matthew's picture
Submitted by Matthew on

...at least in Mark's Gospel, where Jesus the focus is much less on Jesus as Israel, and much more on him as Messiah. It also fits very well with the way in which Goliath is portrayed as being a son of the serpent - coming out in his scaly (serpentine) armour, and being killed by having his head crushed.

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Thanks both. That's the kind of observation that I am always unsure whether mulling on it will confirm it or make me throw it in the bin quite quickly.

I'll keep it out of the bin for the time being then.

Ann's picture
Submitted by Ann on

Jesus was baptised late in life "for the forgiveness of sins". Before that, although clearly he was in relationship with God, he didn't need baptism because he was without sin. At baptism he is declaring that his life work is the forgiveness of sins. Of course, immediately afterwards, he is confronted with the personification of sin. He goes through what humans do to deal with temptation and confession - 40 days of fasting - mirroring the years in the wilderness by the 1st chosen people. He is taking our place.

I know this is a simple direct answer and I will need to look at the deeper more intelligent comments given by others but I like simple! I love the fact that the more you look at the Bible, the more cross references and cross affirmations are found.

James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Thanks Ann,

I'm sure all that you say is going on in Jesus' baptism. If there is validity in what I was suggesting, it is certainly in addition to (rather than instead of) the insights you highlight.

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