Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
All the best writers hold that, whatever may have been the outward machinery of the temptation, the temptation was really a spiritual struggle. It was no model of our human temptations if it was not. Some have thought that the devil appeared as an old man, and talked with Jesus. But evidently all the things were suggestions to his mind; the first from the feeling of hunger and the sight of the stones; the others from his anxious thoughts about the modes of executing his mission. The suggestions themselves were not evil; the sin could only have come by our Lord's yielding to them when he knew that they opposed the will of God. It would help us greatly if we could see that suggestion to the mind is not sin; our dealing with the suggestion makes the sin. It is, perhaps, better to conceive of the devil here as a personification of the enticing force - of evil suggestion. Suggestion is suggestion of the devil whensoever it is an enticement to wrong. Olshausen says, "The temptation of Jesus took place in the depths of his inward life," in the sphere of his soul. By way of introduction, the probable scene of the temptation may be described, with a view to bringing out the effects of nature on sensitive, poetical minds. Illustrate the influence of the awful silence, and towering mountain-forms, of Sinai on Elijah. The Apostle John gives the great world-forces of temptation as "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride Of life" (1 John 2:16). Read our Lord's temptation in the light of St. John's terms.
I. THE LUST OF THE FLESH; OR, THE TEMPTATION THAT COMES THROUGH MAN'S APPETITES AND PASSIONS, The force of the first temptation lies in the natural cravings of hunger and thirst; these set men on intense endeavour to satisfy the craving. With the consciousness of possessing miraculous power, our Lord was tempted to use his trust for the relief of his own needs. Illustrate by the hungry man who is tempted to steal. The claims of the flesh may urge us to do what we know is wrong.
II. THE LUST OF THE EYES. Temptation through the intellect. Conscious mental superiority may lead men to deceive their weaker fellows, and deceive themselves, by persuading themselves that such deception is for their good. There is a special temptation for the intelligent.
III. THE PRIDE OF LIFE. Pride in the command and use of worldly forces, state, class-privilege, equipage, soldiers, etc. To Christ the temptation came in this form: "You are superior; you know you are superior; assert your superiority, and men will bow down to you." - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.