The First to Pass The Test

A Bible Exposition Of Mark 1:12-13

In the world of food and wine, one of the highest designations one can have is that of a sommelier. A sommelier is a wine steward. Beginning in 1969 there were official exams and classifications for sommeliers. The highest designation is that of a certified master sommelier. The exam is governed by the Court of Master Sommeliers, which has only inducted about 200 Master Sommeliers since the 70’s. So that’s a handful of folks each year. Of those who pass, most have at least 10 years experience as a Sommelier. The previous tests to get to that level have a 25% pass rate. They range from Introductory to Certified to Advanced to Master.

So there is a winnowing to even get to the top to be able to take the Master examination. It is considered one of the hardest tests in the world. Master Sommeliers have extensive knowledge of not just grapes and the process of making wine. But the various distinctions from regions to sub-regions, to even specific vineyards. A Master Sommelier has to blind taste wine and be able to pick up on the nuances and specifics of where and when the wine was produced.

Added to this is extensive knowledge of food pairings, cigars, other alcohol beverages. Not only is it the characteristics and parings, but also the science behind all of it. To top it off, Sommeliers are evaluated on salesmanship, charm, personality, and presentation. They have to look the part and be able to make for an enjoyable dining experience. Some years more students pass than others.

In 2013 out of 70 people who took the exam only one passed. It is difficult. It is strenuous. Preparation is rigorous. Many people who aspire to become Master Sommeliers never make the cut.  Passing the test isn’t what qualifies you. In one sense, the test just tells what’s there. What actually qualifies you is your ability to pass the test. By that I mean the test is the validation that you are qualified, that you have the stuff to get the job done.

And as rare as it is to pass a Master Sommlier test, the test for obedience to God’s standards has a much lower success rate. Statistically impossible. Worse than that we know that it is theologically impossible. Right now up to the point of Jesus ministry, the human race, starting with Adam is O for billions.

And yet that is all about to change. The test taker is now going to pass the test with flying colors. He will ace the impossible exam. Jesus is not the first to take this test, but surely He is the first to pass the test.

Today brings us to the end of Mark’s Prologue. The background for the rest of the book is established. We know what we need to so that Mark can dive into the ministry of Jesus next week as He begins His preaching ministry.

The Prologue to the Ministry of Jesus Christ (1:1-13)

  • Identification of His Ministry (1)
  • Preparation for His Ministry (2-8)
  • Inauguration of His Ministry (9-11)

But before Mark turns the corner there is one more situation that needs accounting for:

  • Validation of His Ministry (12-13)

This is the final step in Jesus preparation for ministry. Before He goes public, He must be tested. He has just identified Himself with His people. He has just been identified as being the Son of God.

And so now Jesus is tested by Satan in the wilderness according to the Spirit’s intention. This is a test designed by God to vindicate the ministry of His Christ. Jesus, as a man needs to pass the test in order for Him to be qualified to bear the sins of men. Our outline is very simple this morning. Just two verses here today. It breaks down very naturally:

2 Features of Jesus’ Validating Test

  1. The test is chosen by the Spirit (12)
  2. The test is carried out by Satan (13)

Mark 1:12–13 12 Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 13 And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him.