All of the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) record the story of Jesus going into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil, and each writer has this event following Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist (Mark even says it occurred “immediately” thereafter). But in John’s gospel it would seem we are given a different order of events.
The synoptics show that Jesus was baptized on a certain day, and either on that same day or the next he went out to the wilderness where he spent the next forty in fasting and prayer. Then they have him returning to Galilee in connection with his cousin’s arrest.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but John’s gospel seems to show that Jesus was baptized on a certain day, then “the next day” (John 1:35) two of John’s disciples began to follow him, and then “the next day” (which would be day three-see John 1:43) Jesus decided to return to Galilee where he found Philip and Nathanael. Here he sticks around just long enough for a wedding in Cana and then goes to spend a few days with his family in Capernaum (John 2:1-12), after which he returns to Jerusalem for the Passover. Here there seems to have been a period in which Jesus was active in ministry around Judea even as the Baptizer was still doing his thing, after which time Jesus again went back to Galilee.
So the question is, at what point did Jesus spend forty days in the wilderness? On the whole, John seems to be more concerned with chronology than the other gospel writers; therefore if we trust his account of the events following Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan we are forced to investigate exactly when in the story this period of testing actually took place. If in fact it was “immediately” after the baptism, as Mark so emphatically declares, then how do we reconcile this with John saying he was actually busy interacting with disciples on the second day and that he decided to return to Galilee on the third?