Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.…
The very fact that Christ was subject to temptation is immensely significant, both as regards his nature and life and as regards our experience of temptation.
I. THE PICTURE OF CHRIST. We see him assailed by the tempter, wrestling with the fiend, and flinging the monster at every bout. Jesus tempted in the wilderness appears Very different from the Christ seated at the right hand of the Majesty on high. Here some remarkable features of his nature and work are unveiled.
1. His perfect humanity. Plainly Jesus was a Man. He lacked nothing that is truly and essentially human. Fie had a human soul to be tempted, as well as a human body to suffer hunger. In the temptation he comes down to the level of our poor, toiling, fighting humanity. Thus all the grandeur of his Divinity does not remove one jot from the completeness of his humanity.
2. His brotherly sympathy. "He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15), in order that he might be able to succour the tempted (Hebrews 2:18). This was his apprenticeship to his office of High Priest. He understands our battle with evil, for he fought a similar battle himself.
3. His redeeming work. Christ came to overthrow the works of the devil. He began by facing and conquering the spirit of evil himself. Satan had never been completely vanquished before. The utter rout of his forces in this battle in the wilderness must have left him weakened for all future encounters.
4. His victorious purity. Christ was tempted, yet he did not fall. He came out of the ordeal tested and revealed in his sinless strength. Now it cannot be said that the goodness of Christ is only perfect because he had not an opportunity to do wrong. He was met by the strongest possible inducements to sin. Yet he resisted them. The result was all gain. It was good for Christ to be tempted. Therefore he was led by the Spirit to the wilderness.
II. THE REVELATION OF TEMPTATION.
1. Temptation may come from without. St. James shows how it often springs up in our own hearts from the evil lurking there. Old sins shed seeds which spring up as new sins. But this is not the only way in which temptations arise, or the first man could not have been tempted, nor could Christ. Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent, and Christ was tempted by the devil.
(1) Therefore a good man is not to expect to be free from temptation.
(2) Temptation is no sign of sin. The tempted need not accuse themselves of guilt in their being liable to temptation. Sin only begins when we yield to temptation in our own wills.
2. Temptation lays hold of innocent desires. Christ was tempted by sinful appeals to what was innocent within him. He was tempted to gratify natural desires - hunger, etc., but in a wrong way. He had not our indwelling sins to urge him to evil, but he had greater powers to keep in control. It would seem that, with the descent of the Holy Spirit at his baptism, there had come the consciousness of his great and awful power to work miracles. His temptations were inducements to abuse that power for selfish ends. Every new acquisition is a new ground for temptation; every enlargement and growth of faculty carries with it fresh possibilities of evil - and also, if the evil is resisted, of good. - W.F.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.