Friday after the First Sunday after Epiphany
Scripture: St. Mark 1:12-15 (NKJV)
12 Immediately the Spirit drove Him into the wilderness. 13 And He was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan, and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. 14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Today’s reading says more than just historical facts, for John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, suffers the fate of all of those prophets. He suffers on account of his preaching. Once again the Word of God is despised and forsaken by those who have heard the faithful preaching of the Word.
This is why Mark tells us about the beginning of our Lord’s ministry. Jesus began His ministry in Galilee. Why is this significant? Because Galilee was located in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali, the northernmost part of the kingdom of Israel, and the farthest from the center of the Israelite religion—Jerusalem. This region was the first to be led into exile on account of their false worship and forsaking the command of God.
This is a region where the devil’s influence is evident and powerful, so it is in this land that our Lord Jesus begins His ministry. He sets up shop in His enemy’s backyard. Just like in His temptation, Christ meets the devil where he appears powerful so that His defeat of the deceiver is more glorious for Him and more shameful for the devil.
This is how the Lord works our salvation, by conquering the devil in his own kingdom, and making us the heirs of His kingdom. The One Who is God in the flesh sacrifices Himself and suffers for us, so that we might bear the crown of victory that He won. What love our God and Lord has for us! He redeems us who live in His enemy’s land and who are under His enemy’s authority, all so that He might turn our hearts and minds to believe on Him and cling to Him for our eternal salvation.