In the immediate foreground John the Baptist sees bright yellow blooms and green plants. The flora reflect another passage from Isaiah, The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly (35:1), a result of Christ entering the world. As he continues to gaze back, John observes Christ, whom he has just baptized, standing in the center of the Jordan River. Christ is cast in gold, which is reflected on the top of the water. The crowds from the Judean countryside and Jerusalem surround him.
Ominously lurking over the left horizon, staring at Christ and catching the eyes of John, is Satan. His demonic minions surround him, counterpoised with the angelic host. The dark forces complete the opening passage as a visual reference to the final verse And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness (1:12). This foreboding note in the illumination foreshadows for the viewer what the reader of the text knows. Jesus, having been propelled into the desert, is tempted by Satan there and is threatened by wild beasts for forty days even as angels minister to him. The wilderness or desert is home to both temptation and grace.