Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
I. If our Lord had not become incarnate He would never have been tempted, for temptation is not possible to God. God is above the possibility of temptation; the beasts are below it. The possession of an animal nature is not the only source of temptation, or the "angels who kept not their own principality" could never have fallen. The conditions of and moral goodness possible to a creature involve the possibility of its opposite. Was not Christ too good to be tempted?
1. All human goodness needs the strain of temptation to reveal its reality and depth. Even when that goodness, as in the case of the Man Christ Jesus, and in His case alone, is absolutely without fault or imperfection, temptation is still required to prove its strength, and by the proof to reveal the depth and solidity of its foundations in the soul. The ship that lies at anchor in the harbour when hardly a breath of wind ripples the surface of the water, may hold to her moorings, but" this is no proof of the strength and soundness of her cable, for no strain has been put upon it; but if she is out at sea, and caught in a furious storm, and drifting fast on to a lee shore, and then lets go her anchor, and it holds, there is proof enough of the quality of her cable. But temptation strengthens goodness by assaulting it. There are some shells which cling to the rocks in spite of the continual buffeting of the tides, but those shells are thickest and strongest where the tide has smitten them with its fullest might, and so the defences of the soul against evil are strong in proportion to the evil which has been resisted. And this is why no human character becomes stable or strong in goodness until it has been exposed to temptation. Shield it from all the fierce blasts of temptation, preserve it in a forced isolation from the world, and it will remain as unstable as water beneath a summer sky: but let the rough frosts of winter fall on it, and the biting winds lash it, and it will slowly knit itself into compact and solid strength, and, like the ice, will defy the storm which has only given it strength by attacking it. But we have not exhausted the meaning of our Lord's temptations.
1. They had a representative as well as a personal significance. He was the Head of the human race.
2. It was the first great act of the redemption of the race from sin.
3. The shame and reproach of our first parents are rolled away, as the Son of Man returns from this conflict victorious.
(G. S. Barrett, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.