The author Mark clearly links Jesus ‘temptation in the desert with the baptism. There, Jesus experiences the divine world in the communication from the Father. In the temptation, however, he is in the desert or wilderness, I.e., the demonic world, the traditional haunt of the evil forces. Forty days’ suggests a link with the 40 years of Israel’s wandering in the desert or wilderness.
Whereas Israel failed during that period, here Jesus succeeds. The author also seems to imply a certain messianic element in this scene, namely, the type of messiahship Jesus would embrace. Jesus thus begins his battle with Satan and the powers of evil. His death and subsequent resurrection will resolve the form of his messiahship and his relationship to the powers of evil.
In the conclusion of this passage the author begins the account of the public ministry of Jesus with a summary. He noted the fate of the Baptist and suggests that the Cross cannot be divorced from a consideration of the person and mission of Jesus. In Jesus, God’s Kingdom, I.e., his providing for the needs of his people, has finally dawned. In Jesus, the new age has begun.
The audience is thus invited to adopt a new way of thinking that will lead to a new way of acting (‘repentance’) and put their trust in the good news of salvation that comes in the person of Jesus. Mark thus presents a Jesus bound up with the world of chaos. Satan and the powers of evil personify that chaos, one that brings in its wake human sickness, perversion, and isolation. The task of Jesus is to overcome such chaotic forces.
The struggle in the desert or wilderness is the beginning of Jesus’ containing of chaos. He proceeds to offset such chaos by proclaiming hope in the form of the kingdom of God, God’s definitive intervention in which he will provide for all the needs of his people. The person of Jesus is God’s finest expression of hope for a choice world.