Problem: Jesus went into the wilderness or didn't
Verses: Mark 1:12-13, John 1:35-36; Status: Weak

Mark 1:12-13 describes what happened to Jesus immediately after his baptism:

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. (ESV)

However, the description of the baptism in John's gospel is followed by John 1:35-36:

The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" (ESV)

But there is no real contradiction. The preceeding passages in John do not directly describe the baptism, but rather give the Baptist's spoken account of the baptism. So, "the next day" refers to the day after John the Baptist gave this account, not the day after the baptism itself, which may have occurred months previously. The order of events is something like this:

Mark 1:9 ... Jesus is baptised
Mark 1:12-13 ... Jesus enters the wilderness for 40 days
John 1:32-34 ... Weeks or months after the baptism, John gives an account of it
John 1:35-36 ... The day after that, John points out Jesus

(For the avoidance of confusion: John the Baptist and John the author are different people.)

Updated: Summer 2008

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