by Kathy Beck
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”
[Matthew 4: 1, New English Translation]
My husband’ professional career was as a financial executive, properly clad in suit and tie, but his true place was and is in a bathing suit, building sandcastles. Whenever we are near a beach, he spends hours constructing elaborate palaces and seaside bastions, fending off the incoming tide, mischievous children and romping dogs.
One day, as he was in the grip of inspiration, a woman stopped to admire his creation.
“Are you an architect?” she asked.
He looked up at her with a dazzling smile and replied, “No, I’m a lion tamer.”
This incident comes to mind whenever I consider the story of Jesus’ experience in the wilderness. Matthew’s eloquent account is the text with which we begin Lent this year. But I have always been drawn to Mark’s laconic, straightforward description:
“And [Jesus] was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him.”
[Mark 1:13, King James Version].
An interesting troika: Jesus, the wild beasts, and the angels.
I too have been with those wild beasts. They prowl around me, growling and showing their teeth. But I am married to a lion tamer and surrounded by angels. The angels take unlikely forms: friends, strangers, a voice in the crowd. Sometimes, I later realize, the angels are the wild beasts.
Perhaps you have felt the angels’ presence. Perhaps when the wild beasts threaten, you can be an angel to someone else.