“Jesus was driven out…….into the wilderness” (Mark 1:12)
Ever taken time to think about what it really means when the New Testament tells us that Jesus was “driven out” or “led” into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit to go head-to-head with Satan? It is a significant term that teaches us a great deal about Christ being tempted. It all began back in the book of Genesis. Allow me to explain.
We read that God “drove out” Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden in Genesis 3:24. The word in the Hebrew that describes that event is the word garash. That word literally means to kick someone in the seat of the pants, to shove them out, or to push them away. God did not merely show the fallen couple to the edge of paradise and wave good-bye to them. It wasn’t like sending a rebellious child to their room and telling them to think about what they had done. No, God forcibly kicked our first parents out of perfection. The word carries with it more of a violent expulsion, like a bar’s bouncer tossing an unruly customer into the street.
We find this same word (garash) used by Sarah to Abraham when she told him to get rid of Hagar and her son in Genesis 23. We also find this Hebrew word used by Pharaoh when he told the Hebrews to pack-up and leave Egypt, following all his headaches with the plagues. (Exodus 11). And again, we find the word used by God himself when he told the Israelites to get rid of the heathen Canaanites once they arrived in the promised land. So, you can see that the word garash carries weight to it.
Now when we get over into the New Testament, we find a counterpart to this Hebrew word in the Greek. It is the word ekballo. It means in the Greek what garash means in the Hebrew. We find the Greek version of the word used in Matthew 4:1-11 in the account of God’s Spirit sending Jesus Christ into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Jesus did not walk into the wilderness because he felt like taking a stroll, and while there he encountered Satan. Nor did the Spirit put Christ in the back seat of a nice convertible and drop him off at the edge of the desert. Taking the meaning of ekballo from its’ counterpart in the Old Testament, we find that God’s Spirit sort of kicked Jesus into the wilderness and told him to stay there until the struggle was over.
This wasn’t abuse. It wasn’t God’s Spirit man handling the Son of God. It was the fulfillment of the necessity of Jesus Christ going through the greatest form of temptation, so that he would not only be with us when we walk through our times of testing, but that he would be able to sustain us, comfort us, and strengthen us as we go through them. Now, aren’t you grateful God’s Spirit drove Christ out into the wilderness?