Mark is the only Gospel writer to mention animals in the presence of Christ in the wilderness. Jesus, we read, was ‘with the wild animals,’ (Mk 1:13). One could read this as a sign that at a time of vulnerability he was protected (Barnes, Mk 1:13). On the other hand, one has the sense of these creatures being a benign presence. Are they perhaps mentioned to demonstrate the power of Christ over creation. Animals in the wilderness which would normally present a danger, subjugated – become companions of Jesus at a time of trial (see Barclay, Mark 1:13).
There is another angle. In the final stages of preparation for his launch onto the public stage, the power and majesty of Christ is demonstrated in many ways. In echoes of past prophecies, we might see the bear, the goat, the desert lion – wild animals – even the wolf, laying down with the Lamb (Isaiah 11:6; 65:25; Hosea 2:18).
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Jn 1:29
As with Mark, the Angels are mentioned by Matthew. In his Gospel, Matthew mentions that they attend Christ after his trials. ‘When the devil had departed…’ (Matthew 4:11) What a picture! That angels who have so often been our unseen protectors in difficult times, are there to gently encourage and minister as we recover.
‘Jesus,’ writes William Barclay, ‘was not left to fight alone, and neither are we.‘