Bringing the Text to Life

Beware the Crest of the Wave Mark 1:4-11

The moment of our greatest success and achievement, when we are riding the crest of the wave, is also the moment we are most likely to be subjected to the severest temptations, gnawed by our most debilitating insecurities, and seduced into believing the most grandiose visions of our own abilities.

In today's text Jesus celebrates perhaps the most exhilarating and confirming episode of his entire ministry. Everything is going right. John baptizes Jesus, carrying out his appointed role in the drama of salvation. The experience is so moving and powerful that the Holy Spirit seems to envelope Jesus' whole being with a sense of love and acceptance. Jesus hears what we all long to hear in our own lives. He is loved; his actions have pleased; he is received without any hesitations or holdbacks.

But what happens to Jesus following this "mountaintop" experience? In verse 12 we are told that he is immediately driven out into the wilderness, and there is tempted by Satan in what were perhaps some of the most vulnerable moments of his life. Riding the crest of the wave can often lead to tumbling troughs.

For most of us, then, wave-riding puts us into dangerous and tenuous positions. Riding the crest of a wave can be the moment when we are most likely to be swept into depression, denial, ...

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