Lent: Preparation – Session Five
Lent: Preparation – Session Five
This session looks at the theme of preparation in the Bible and in relation to Lent.
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Bible passages

Exodus 24:18; 31:18

Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

Exodus 24:18; 31:18

Mark 1:9–15

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Mark 1:9–15

Matthew 3:1–6, 11–12 (optional: read to the end of the chapter

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt round his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the River Jordan…

… “I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Matthew 3:1–6, 11–12


Withdrawal into the wilderness is part of the scriptural story of preparation for ministry. Moses would draw apart from his people to meet with God on the mountain and find the way forward for God’s people, Jesus often withdrew into the hills to commune with the Father, Abram was led out into the desert to find a new identity, and Jacob wrestled with God in the desert and found a new name (Israel – see our study on Jacob on p. 72). Solitude, austere simplicity, and nature are the context in which the giants of our spiritual heritage sought the face of God.

Here, after thirty years spent growing up in Nazareth and working as a
carpenter, Jesus goes into the wilderness to prepare. The time has come. Joseph, in whose house he grew up, has died (he is present when Jesus is lost as a boy [Luke 2:48], but by the time Jesus has embarked on his teaching ministry it is Jesus who is head of the household [Matthew 12:46]); John the Baptist, his childhood friend, his cousin, and his herald, has been put to death; it is time – his early support networks have been withdrawn. Just as John the Baptist prepared for this in the wilderness, so Jesus now withdraws to the wilderness to make himself ready. The striking difference is that whereas Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and Elijah encounter God in the desert, Jesus meets the devil. This of itself is a huge clue to who Jesus is, and a preparation for the cosmic confrontation that is to come. In Luke’s Gospel we read (Luke 4:13): “When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.” That “opportune time” comes at the Last Supper (Luke 22:3): “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” The adversary who met him at his preparation in the wilderness is back, and the battle lines are drawn. This is what Jesus came here to do.



O God of all our journeys, you call us on. Help us to hear your call, to grasp what you are asking of us, and to have the courage to undertake it. Help us to find the right friends to advise us and the right circumstances to prepare privately with you, so that we are ready for what you want of us. In Jesus’ holy name we make our prayer; Amen.