After the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit came upon him. When Jesus goes to the wilderness, Mark does not say that Jesus decided to go (though no doubt he went willingly), but rather that the Spirit send him.
In the wilderness, Satan tested Jesus. Jesus is beginning his mission, and at the start of that mission, he is tested by Satan. Though it is clearer in the accounts in Matthew and Luke, this testing was to see whether Jesus was going to obey his God-given mission.
At a deeper level, many scholars see Jesus as reliving Israel’s testing in the wilderness. Jesus is the true Israel, sent to earth to serve God in a way that the nation of Israel failed to do. Israel wandered the wilderness for forty years, and they failed God’s test.
Deuteronomy 8:2 says: “Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.”
Jesus was led by God into the wilderness by God, and he was tested by Satan. Where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded. His heart was disclosed. He was going to keep God’s will.
God’s people are often tested. For example, Israel was tested in the wilderness, and Job was tested by Satan. As our church focuses on living out our mission, we have to be prepared for the temptations that Satan will send our way to attempt to drive us from our mission.
The temptation reveals another important aspect of Jesus’s mission. His temptation is Mark’s first mention of spiritual warfare. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12 that our struggles are against the spiritual forces of evil. This was true of Jesus too. His mission was not merely a threat to the humans who rebelled against God, but it was a threat to the spiritual forces of evil. And those spiritual forces of evil would strive to stop Jesus.
During the temptation, Jesus shows a complete reliance upon God. And this reliance is not in vain. During the testing, Jesus was ministered to by God’s messengers (angels). God sustained him during this time. Likewise, we can trust that God will sustain us during our trials.