1st Sunday of Lent (B)


Jesus’ temptation

  • Told on the First Sunday of Lent every year.
  • Brings to mind figures and events from the Hebrew Scriptures.
  • After Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit who had descended upon him drove him into the desert to be tempted by Satan.
  • Relates to Baptism and its meaning.
SOURCE: Content adapted from Our Sunday Visitor

Pastoral Excerpts

The time of fulfillment

If the time is fulfilled, how come history still seems like one disaster after another? If the reign of God is at hand, why bother taking care of anything—or anyone—in this age? And how are we supposed to keep time with a redemption that is both already present and still on the way? These questions have been with the church for centuries. They are especially acute in our own time, when talk of the end floods popular culture, politics, and social movements.

SOURCE: Content taken from FEASTING ON THE WORD, YEAR B (12 Volume Set); David L. Bartlett (Editor); Copyright © 2011. Westminster John Knox Press. All rights reserved.
Christ-Centered Exposition

Jesus was engaged by Satan

Christian, be encouraged. Christ knows what you are going through. Even more, His angels came to His aid. They may be sent by God to serve us as well (Ps 34:7; Heb 1:14)! First John 3:8 reminds us, “The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works.” In this text we see a wonderful picture of that happening. It is a preview of coming attractions. What was Satan’s goal? He wanted to defeat the Son! But how? Ultimately it seems that Satan’s goal was to get Jesus not to suffer! Satan was at the baptism I am sure! He saw and he heard it all! The suffering and death of Jesus meant Satan’s doom and destruction, and it meant salvation for you and me. This is what was at stake in the war in the wilderness! Mark does not record our Lord’s victory with the same detail as do Matthew and Luke. This is just round one of a 15-round bout. The Servant King won this round. The war in the wilderness was not the end. It was just the beginning, or more precisely it was the resumption of a war begun long ago in Genesis 3:15.

SOURCE: Content taken from CHRIST-CENTERED EXPOSITION COMMENTARY (32 Volumes); David Platt, Daniel L. Akin, and Tony Merida (Editors); Copyright © 2013-16. Holman Reference. All rights reserved.
The Biblical Imagination

Baptism and wilderness connected

Baptism and wilderness—they are connected. One prepares us for the other. To be set apart by baptism means that a wilderness lies ahead of us. The Spirit that has descended now drives. In the original, Mark 1:12 opens with “And immediately,” a double dose of Markan literary haste. Jesus is literally “thrown” or “cast” by the Spirit into the wilderness. Without providing a single detail of the threefold temptation of Jesus, Mark characteristically abbreviates the story. Instead he adds a meaningful detail found in none of the other Gospels. Jesus, he says, was “with the wild animals.” For Mark’s first readers, wild animals would have been waiting in their own personal wilderness as well. With the persecution under Nero after the fire in Rome, the prospect of being thrown to the wild beasts in the arena became very real. Their baptism and experience of wilderness were as intertwined as was Jesus’ experience.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE BIBLICAL IMAGINATION (4 Volume Series); Michael Card; Copyright © 2011-14. IVP Books. All rights reserved.

Life Recovery Bible

Facing our temptations

1:1-13 Only belief in a Power greater than ourself can restore us to sanity. That’s how John the Baptist saw Jesus—as one far greater than he was. Jesus demonstrated his great power through victory over Satan and his temptations. This should encourage us as we face our own temptations. With his help, we can stand up to anything. Under our own power, we are helpless against the power of our dependency. We can tap into God’s power by making a conscious decision to turn our back on sin (1:4) and by entrusting our life to God’s care.

SOURCE: Content taken from THE LIFE RECOVERY BIBLE notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright © 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Jesus can assist us

1:12, 13 To identify fully with human beings, Jesus had to endure Satan’s temptations. Although Jesus is God, he is also man. And as fully human, he was not exempt from Satan’s attacks. Because Jesus faced temptations and overcame them, he can assist us in two important ways: 1) as an example of how to face temptation without sinning, and 2) as a helper who knows just what we need because he went through the same experience. (See Hebrews 4:15.)

SOURCE: Content taken from LIFE APPLICATION STUDY BIBLE NOTES, Copyright © 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.
NIV Application Commentary

Power of God in the desert

The power of God appears in the desert, in weakness, in ones who come out of nowhere and will be handed over. God’s activity has been hidden from human beings, and even when it is revealed through Jesus, many will be unable to see. Those who do see will take comfort when they pass through the desert. They will know that Jesus has already been there and knows the way. All they have to do is follow.

SOURCE: Content taken from NIV APPLICATION COMMENTARY: NEW TESTAMENT (20 Volumes) All rights reserved.
Sermon Writer



SOURCE: Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.


1st Sunday of Lent (B)

CATHOLIC Bible Study

The Temptation of the Jesus Christ and the Beginning of His Galilean Ministry

by Michal Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

In St. Mark’s Gospel, the story of God’s plan for Jesus’ mission continues to unfold:

  • The Holy Spirit drove Jesus into the desert.
  • Satan tempted Jesus.
  • Jesus defeated Satan’s temptations.
  • Angels ministered to Jesus among wild beasts, showing Jesus’ authority over Heaven and earth (only in Mark’s Gospel).

Satan, the Adversary

Satan (whose title means “Adversary”) was once an angel created by God to be good.  However, when God tested the angel spirits by giving them the gift of free will, Satan chose to lead a rebellion against God (see Jn 8:44; CCC 391-92).

St. Michael and his army of angels defeated Satan and the fallen angels who joined him, who became demon spirits (Rev 12:7-9).  God exiled Satan and his demon spirits from Heaven and cast them into the “fiery pit,” “lake of fire,” or Gehenna as Jesus referred to the Hell of the Damned.

Satan, the liar, and deceiver of humankind, in the guise of a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve into the sin of rebellion against God in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:1-7; Rev 12:9).

Experiences of testing in the bible

Jesus’ testing by Satan and His 40-day ordeal in the desert wilderness recalls other similar ordeals of other agents of God in the Old Testament.  In Scripture, 40 is a number symbolizing both testing and consecration (for example see Gen 2:16-17; 3:1-7; Ex 24:15-18; 34:28; Num 14:34-35; Dt 9:9, 18 and 1 Kng 19:4-8).  Some examples of testing are:

  • Satan tested Adam and Eve’s obedience to God’s command not to eat the forbidden fruit.
  • Moses and Elijah both had a 40-day experience of testing before a divine revelation of God.
  • God tested the Israelites in the wilderness and then condemned them to 40 years of wandering in judgment for their faith and obedience failures.

Jesus’ testing vs. Adam’s

Like Adam and Eve in the first Creation, Satan tested Jesus, but then the experiences differ.  Jesus is the new Adam who resisted Satan’s temptations (1 Cor 15:22, 45; CCC 411), and He is the new Adam of the new Creation.  Like Satan tested the first Adam concerning the obedience of his covenant obligation to God in the Garden of Eden, Jesus experienced the test of a covenant ordeal.

A comparison to Adam’s test also appears in how God tested the faith and obedience of the children of Israel in their wilderness experience in the books of Exodus through Deuteronomy.

Unlike the first Adam, who God exiled from the Garden Sanctuary in Eden, and unlike the Exodus generation, Jesus passed His test.  For their failures in obedience and faith, God condemned the Exodus generation to an exile of 40 years of wandering and the loss of entrance into the Promised Land (Num 14:34-35).

The desert wilderness

Like Moses, Elijah, and the covenant people of Israel, Jesus encountered the same ambiguity of the wilderness experience.  The desert wilderness was a place to uniquely experience God as it was for Moses, the children of Israel, and the prophet Elijah at Mt. Sinai.  However, the desert could also be a desolate place to experience a test of faith and obedience, as in the children of Israel’s 40-year ordeal as the old generation died and a new generation of holy warriors took their place.

Jesus’ victory over temptation, sin, and death would usher in a new Israel and a new Edenic Sanctuary in the true Promised Land of Heaven (CCC 877).  Adam’s failure brought death and alienation from God, but the victory of Jesus brought eternal life and union with the Most Holy Trinity!

Mark’s account of Jesus’ temptations

St. Mark’s Gospel does not have as detailed an account of Jesus’ Temptation as in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels.  However, he provides information that is not in the other two versions in Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13.  Mark agrees with the other Synoptic Gospel accounts that the same Spirit that descended upon Jesus at His baptism (Mt 3:16; Mk 1:10; Lk 3:22) led Him into the desert where He remained for 40 days.  Mark does not give the details of the three times Satan tempted Jesus.  However, in agreement with Matthew’s account, he provides the information that angels ministered to Jesus after His ordeal.  The additional information Mark provides is that Jesus was “among the wild beasts.”

Wild Beasts

Creation, contaminated by sin, is now a dangerous environment, as in the wild beasts that inhabit the unpopulated areas.  And yet, no harm came to Jesus from them because He had power and authority over all the creatures of God’s Creation.  The detail that Jesus was among the beasts, and they did not harm Him, may intend to recall Isaiah’s prophecy that when the Messiah comes, even the wild beasts will be tamed and will live in harmony (Is 11:1-9; also see Ez 34:25-28).  Jesus’ coming is the beginning of restoring order to Creation.  It will remain an incomplete restoration until Christ’s Second Coming at the end of time.


Angels ministered to Jesus because they acknowledged Him as their Lord God.  Perhaps there is also a connection with the angels who accompanied the children of Israel in the wilderness (Ex 14:19).  God the Father and God the Holy Spirit are the primary agents of the action in Jesus’ initial experiences until the close of St. Mark’s Prologue in verses 1-13, where Jesus reveals His authority over the angels and beasts of the earth.  The chief agent in the action that follows in Mark’s Gospel is God the Son.

Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the Gospel of God

We can view verses 14-15 as a summary of Mark’s introduction in verses 1-3.  However, we can also interpret Jesus’ statement in verse 15 as looking forward to His ministry and a gateway into the narrative that follows.

Verse 14 mentions the arrest of St. John the Baptist.  The tetrarch Herod Antipas, a son of Herod the Great, arrested John.  Herod Antipas was the ruler of Galilee and the territory of Perea on the east side of the Jordan River across from Judea, where John was baptizing.  Antipas had an affair with his niece Herodias, his brother’s wife, and Herod the Great’s granddaughter.  Antipas convinced her to divorce her husband and marry him, even though the Law of Moses forbade such a union if the woman’s husband was still living and she had a child (Lev 18:16).  In his role as a hereditary descendant of Aaron and an ordained priest of the Sinai Covenant, John the Baptist condemned Herod Antipas and his wife Herodias for the sin of adultery.  John was arrested and imprisoned in the Herodian fortress of Macherus in Perea (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.5.2 and Mt 4:12-17; 14:3-12).

John the Baptist’s arrest was the signal that his ministry had come to an end and Jesus’ ministry must begin.  Jesus was now thirty years old (Lk 3:23), the same age when His ancestor David became King of Israel (2 Sam 5:4).  The Galilee was the perfect location for Jesus’ ministry.  The region was a crossroads for the Via Maris, the ancient trade route that came out of Egypt, extended along the Mediterranean coast, passed through the Galilee, and continued into Syria, Asia Minor, and Mesopotamia.  Jesus didn’t have to go to the various neighboring Gentile nations where Jews lived because they came to Him in the three yearly pilgrimages to the Jerusalem Temple commanded in the Law of Moses (Ex 23:14-17; Dt 16:16; 2 Chr 8:3).  Jesus’ mission was to preach that the covenant of an eternal Kingdom promised to David was coming to fulfillment (2 Sam 7:13-16; 23:5; 2 Chron 13:5; Sir 45:24; Dan 2:44), and now was the time to “repent and believe” (Mt 4:17; Mk 1:14-15).

Lenten season

Lent reminds us that Jesus’ self-sacrifice removed the veil of separation between humankind and God that was the consequence of sin.  When the Israelites made the image Golden Calf, breaking the first of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:4-5), it was as great a fall from grace as Adam’s sin.  Like Adam, their punishment was separation from continual access to the Divine Presence.  God intended to dwell among them above the Ark of the Covenant, but as a result of their sin, a thick veil/curtain separated the people from God’s Divine Presence above the Ark in the Holy of Holies.  When Jesus gave up His life on the Cross, the curtain that separated the people from God’s presence was torn from top to bottom, opening the way to a renewed relationship with the Almighty (Mk 15:38).

In Jesus’ resurrection from death, He was victorious over Satan, and through the Sacrament of Baptism and our resurrection to new life, we have a part in that victory (Rom 5:12-14, 17-20).  During Lent, we remember our share in Christ’s victory as we renew our baptismal vows.  The rituals and symbols of the Mass remind us that our Savior chose to break the barrier of separation between the sinner and God to make us vessels of grace and reveal the beautiful mystery of the Eucharist in our lives.  We reaffirm our commitment to the New Covenant in Christ Jesus, as we sing in today’s psalm: “Your ways, O Lord, are love and truth, to those who keep your covenant.”  See the document “The Lenten Journey.”

SOURCE: content taken from Michal E. Hunt at Agape Bible Study; used with permission. Section divisions and titles added.


1st Sunday of Lent (B)

Paul Schlachter

Jesus tempted by Satan

Points to consider

  • Now I listen to our savior Jesus, driven by the Spirit into the deserttempted by Satan just as we have been so often.
  • We are called to imitate Jesus, who remained in the desert for forty days, among wild beasts.
  • The brief passage includes the first homily that Jesus gives in his ministry.  Let me say it so that people will become more attentive.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent and believe in the Gospel.

Key elements

  • Climax: The message of Jesus to the people.  This is the time of fulfillment.
  • Message for our assembly: Let us experience together the silence of deserted places, where angels ministered to him.  Let us keep distractions at a distance and allow the same divine messengers to fill our emptiness.
  • I will challenge myself: To take my time with this short passage, to let my listeners relish each word.  I will also pause more judiciously to indicate the silence of deserted places.

Word to Eucharist

Jesus has gone to the desert to pray.  Why do we remain choked in abundance?  How will we encounter him if we persist in this?

SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz


This short passage gives us the first evangelist’s memory of Jesus’ first publicly spoken words.

SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org


1st Sunday of Lent (B)

Catholic Productions
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The Wild Beasts and the New Adam

Jesus is depicted as the fulfillment of many Old Testament types, such as Joseph, Moses, David, Elijah, Elisha, and so on. In this week’s video see some of the types Jesus is fulfilling in the readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent, in particular Jesus being a New Adam.

Fr. Dave Pivonka
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Temptation of Jesus

Fr. Greg
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Five-Minute Meditation

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