The Outsider

Mark 1:12-13

An outsider is someone who does not belong to a particular group.  He’s a visitor, a stranger.  You’ve probably felt like an outsider.  You feel you don’t really fit in at a church; it’s hard to belong at school; you have little in common at work; and your peers and family seem to ignore you. Jesus can relate. 

“The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness” (12).  Jesus was an outsider.  He was rejected by men and rejected by God.  The Spirit drove him outside, into the howling wilderness, where his companions were wild animals, the devil, and a few brave angels.  Everything about this story screams “outsider!”  One minute, his Father was bragging about his love for his Son, “You are my beloved Son…” (11), the next minute, Jesus is starving, hunted, and alone.  One minute, Jesus is being encouraged and supported by his Father, “…with you I am well pleased,” the next minute, he is being threatened and tempted by the devil.  God sure has a funny way of showing his love.  

In fact, the Outsider is so alone that the story mentions no other human companions, just non-human participants: the Spirit, Satan, angels, and wild animals.  Quite a party!  He has been driven out to another world, far away in time and space from support, care, and understanding.  He has no Heavenly Father and no earthly friends. 

But why?  Why was he driven outside into the wilderness?  If the first part of his mission was to identify with the human race by being baptized in the Jordan River, the second part of his mission was to do what the human race failed to do in the garden of Eden.  Jesus is returning to ground zero, not to rescue the human race, but to rebuild the human race. While Jesus will rescue the human race at the cross, he will rebuild the human race in the desert wasteland. In order to rebuild the human race, he needs to turn himself into a second Adam and do what the first Adam failed to do.

All the clues of a connection with the story of Adam in Genesis are right there in the brief text of Mark 1:12-13.  When the Spirit hovered over the earth it became a paradise for Adam; but when the Spirit descended upon Jesus, his world became a desert.  Adam was in charge of civilizing the animals by naming them; but Jesus was surrounded by wild animals.  Adam was driven out of the garden after he sinned against God; but Jesus was driven out into the wilderness after he obeyed God (by being baptized).  Angels were sent to block Adam from access to the tree of life; but angels were sent to sustain Jesus and keep his life.  When Satan tempted Adam in the garden, Adam failed; but when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, Jesus prevailed.

Jesus is going back to ground zero of the Fall of Adam and Eve, in order to rebuild the human race, by becoming a faithful second Adam. Jesus is going to earn and merit righteousness before God, which Adam failed to do. And by becoming a fully righteous human being, Jesus will prove that he has what it takes to rescue the human race.  He will do this by offering his perfect life as a sacrifice on the cross, giving his righteousness to those who lost theirs.  The righteousness we lost in the garden, Jesus regained in the wilderness, and offers to us on the cross. 

Let’s apply this truth in two ways.  First, you can accept the righteousness of Jesus as your very own.  Technically, Jesus “imputes” his righteousness to you.  Let’s put it in more familiar terms.  Pretend you need a hundred trillion dollars to enter heaven when you die.  Obviously, nobody has that kind of money.  Then pretend the only Person who has earned one hundred trillion dollars is Jesus, so he transfers it to your account.  Now it’s yours. Now you have what God requires.  Those who want his expensive gift of righteousness can have it.  He earned this righteousness for you by living a perfect life that upheld God’s law, including what he did in the desert.  When he was driven outside, he made a way for you to come inside.  Even more, your sins do not deplete the righteous account Jesus has given to you and your good works do not add a friggin nickel to it! 

Second, outsiders save the world.  Jesus was the Ultimate Outsider, who had to go where nobody else could go to do what nobody else could do.  This was his mission to rebuild humanity.  Likewise, God tends to use outsiders to do his most important work today.  In fact, God has a habit of using outsiders to carry out his mission.  God loves those who don’t fit in, whom the world looks down upon, and who feel they have little to offer.  Perhaps you think you’re the least likely person that God would use.  Perhaps you think you’ve sinned too much, went too far, and waited too long.  Perhaps you think you’re too outside to be useful to God.  Remember, God loves to use the outsider, because it helps God convince the world that people are saved by grace, not by works.  Jesus dealt with plenty of people who thought they were on the inside track, and showed them how far their hearts were from God.  And he dealt with plenty of outsiders, showing them how close they were to the kingdom of God.  God has a special mission for every outsider.  Hold on to that truth for dear life. 

Ultimately, outsiders will rule the world.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.  And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.  And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.  —Mark 1:12-13

The Breakdown

  1. What did you learn from this passage of Scripture?
  2. Have you ever felt like an outsider? Write about it or talk with someone about it.
  3. How do you think Jesus can relate to you?  Try to list five ways.  And if you’re up to it, share your list on the Holy Ghost Notes Facebook page.

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