Christ is with You in the Arena - The Warrior's Journey®

Christ is with You in the Arena

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“Immediately the Spirit impelled Him to go out into the wilderness. 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.” (Mark 1:12-13) 

“And He was with the wild beasts.” Only the Gospel of Mark contains these words. What could possibly be Mark’s purpose in mentioning them? There were many aspects of Christ’s temptation in the wilderness. Mark could have mentioned the various ways Satan tempted Jesus, as do Matthew (Matthew 4:1-11) and Luke (Luke 4:1-14). But in his brief description Mark only mentions that Jesus was face to face with wild beasts. 

New Testament scholars believe this unique detail reveals something about Mark’s audience.  He was writing to Christians suffering under the imperial persecution of Nero. The Roman Emperor needed a scapegoat and found a convenient one in the Christians – a religious sect that was already unpopular with the people. In the wake of Rome’s burning (AD 64), rumors circulated that Nero had celebrated the fire in song, and even that he had ordered it. Nero diverted blame from himself to the despised Christians. Among other public punishments in the Colosseum, Nero ordered Christians to be sewn up in animal skins and fed to wild dogs.  He turned dozens of starving lions onto whole crowds of Christians. They were literally facing the wild beasts as a test of their faith. 

Christians in Rome believed in their God. But the thought of being killed and consumed by mindless, wild beasts was particularly unnerving. To encourage these believers Mark was reminding them that they were not alone. Christ Himself was with them in the arena. In fact, Jesus Himself had faced the wild beasts. It was part of His temptation and testing in the wilderness – a test that lasted forty days. But God sent His angels to help His Son. And God would send His angels to help them as well – if not to deliver them from death, then to carry them immediately into the presence of Christ in heaven.  

One of the most common temptations God’s people will face, is to believe that God is remote and unmoved by their sufferings. Believers are tempted to question if God is simply too big and powerful to understand their pain and helplessness. But Jesus demolished this notion when He – the Almighty – humbled Himself to become a little baby cradled in the arms of Mary – and to suffer all the indignities and pain of this life. Jesus, we are later told in Hebrews 4:15, was tempted in every way as we are.  


  • Are you in the arena, facing the most dangerous situation of your life? Are others out to destroy you?  Are you always under the heel of adversity? 
  • Do you doubt that God has any idea of what you’re going through? 
  • Remember, you are not alone. The footprints of Jesus are everywhere. He knows by personal experience exactly what you’re going through and He is with you now to strengthen you and to deliver you. 

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