Luke 4:1
Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
Sermons
Baptism Does not Exempt from TemptationA. B. Grosart, D. D.Luke 4:1
Christ an Example in TemptationA. Farindon, D. DLuke 4:1
Christ in the WildernessF. C. Ewer, D. D.Luke 4:1
Christ's a Lonely LifeBishop Hacket.Luke 4:1
Christ's Temptation a Help to UsA. Farindon, D. D.Luke 4:1
From Heights to DepthsJ. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.Luke 4:1
HumilityBishop Hacket.Luke 4:1
Led by the Divine SpiritBishop Hacket.Luke 4:1
Led by the SpiritBishop Andrewes.Luke 4:1
Led by the SpiritG. S. Barrett.Luke 4:1
Lessons from the TemptationHomiletic MagazineLuke 4:1
Man SociableBishop Hacket.Luke 4:1
Our Saviour's TemptationF. W. P. Greenwood.Luke 4:1
Retirement Preparatory to ActionS. Baring-Gould, M. A.Luke 4:1
Satan's MaliceA. Farindon, D. D.Luke 4:1
Scene of the TemptationArchbishop Trench.Luke 4:1
Solitude Favourable to TemptationR. Gilpin.Luke 4:1
Spiritual Favour a Time of TrialR. Gilpin.Luke 4:1
Spiritual Victory in Spite of DisadvantageD. Dyke.Luke 4:1
Temptation After BaptismArchbishop Trench.Luke 4:1
Temptation After PrivilegeD. Dyke.Luke 4:1
Temptation Assails Even the HoliestD. J. Vaughan, M. A. .Luke 4:1
Temptation Renders Virtue PossibleA. Farindon, D. D.Luke 4:1
Temptations not to be SoughtR. Gilpin.Luke 4:1
Tempting the TempterBishop Hacket.Luke 4:1
The Back Strengthened for the LoadA. B. Grosart, D. D.Luke 4:1
The Danger of SolitudeBishop Hacket.Luke 4:1
The Divine Leading a Security in TemptationBishop Hacket.Luke 4:1
The Divine Purpose in the TemptationF. Godet,D. D.Luke 4:1
The Forty Days in the WildernessStepford A. Brooke, M. A.Luke 4:1
The Power of Habit to Resist TemptationA. Farindon, D. D.Luke 4:1
The Small Number of the ElectGrenville KleiserLuke 4:1
The Solitary PlaceA. Farindon, D. D.Luke 4:1
The TemptationAlexander MaclarenLuke 4:1
The Temptation of ChristA. M. Fairbairn, D. D.Luke 4:1
The Temptation of ChristD. J. Vaughan, M. A.Luke 4:1
The Temptation of ChristGeorge Whitefield Luke 4:1
The Temptation of Christ in the WildernessT. D. Woolsey, D. D.Luke 4:1
The Temptation of the KingF. D. Maurice, M. A.Luke 4:1
The World a WildernessF. G. Ewer, D. D.Luke 4:1
Washed and not SoiledA. Farindon, D. D.Luke 4:1
Solitude and StruggleW. Clarkson Luke 4:1, 2
The Temptation of ChristR.M. Edgar Luke 4:1-13

I. THE REALITY OF THE TEMPTATION. The above passage of St. Mark, and the parallel passages of the other Gospels, contain the record of one of the most remarkable transactions in the Word of God. It records the tempta







And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.
How is the temptation of Christ to be understood? As a history, a parable, a myth, or an undesigned, though not accidental, compound of the three? Let us begin —

1. With what ought to be a self-evident proposition. As Jesus was a moral being, whose nature had to develop under the limitations necessary to humanity, we must conceive Him as a subject of moral probation. He could not escape exposure to its perils. But again —

2. We must here conceive the temptable as the tempted. In the person and life of Jesus there was no seeming, A real humanity cannot escape with a fictitious temptation. Though our narrative may be termed by pre-eminence The Temptation, it was not simply then, but always, that Jesus was tempted. The devil left Him only "for a season"; returned personified now as Peter, now as Judas, and again as the Jews; met Him amid the solitude and agony of Gethsemane, in the clamour, mockery, and desertion of the cross. But —

3. How could Jesus be "tempted in all things, like as we are, yet without sin"? Is not temptation evil? We must consider —

I. HOW THE TEMPTED COULD DE THE SINLESS CHRIST. And —

1. What is temptation? Seduction to evil. It stands distinguished from trial thus: trial tests, seeks to discover the man's moral qualities or character; temptation persuades to evil, deludes, that it may ruin. God tries; Satan tempts.

2. The forms of temptation. It may be either sensuous, imaginative, or rational; perhaps it is never so powerful as when its forces approach the mind together, and at once through the senses, the imagination, and the reason.

3. The sources of temptation. It may proceed either

(1)from self, or

(2)from without self.If the first, the nature must be bad, but not of necessity radically bad; if the second it may be innocent, but must be capable of sinning. If now the temptation comes from without, three things are possible — it may speak either —

1. To still fluid evil desires and make them crystallize into evil action; or —

2. To innocence, and change it into guilt; or —

3. Supply it with the opportunity of rising into holiness. Illustrations: of

(1)Macbeth; of

(2)Hubert, in "King John"; of

(3)Isabella, in "Measure for Measure," the play that so well expounds its own saying —

"Tis one thing to be tempted, Esealus,

Another thing to fall."

Isabella, lovely as pure, most womanly in her unconscious strength, stainless among the stained, loving her doomed brother too well to sin for him, triumphs over his tears and entreaties, the wiles and threats of the Deputy, and emerges from her great temptation chaster, more beautiful in the blossom of her perfect womanhood, than she had been before.

4. We are now in a position to consider the temptation of Christ in relation to His sinlessness. Temptation implies(1) ability in the tempted to sin or not sin. Jesus had, to speak with the schoolmen, the posse non peccare, not the non posse peccare. Had He possessed the latter, He had been intemptable.(2) Evil must be presented to the tempted in a manner disguised, plausible, attractive.(3) The tempter must be sinful, the tempted may be innocent. Our discussion conducts, then, to but one conclusion; temptation was not only possible to the sinlessness, but necessary to the holiness, of Christ.

II. THE PLACE WHERE THE TEMPTATION HAPPENED IS NOT WITHOUT SIGNIFICANCE. Into which wilderness Jesus was led we do not know — whether the wild and lonely solitudes watched by the mountains where Moses and Elijah struggled in prayer and conquered in faith, or the steep rock by the side of the Jordan overlooking the Dead Sea, which later tradition has made the arena of this fell conflict. Enough, the place was a desert, waste, barren, shelterless, overhead the hot sun, underfoot the burning sand or blistering rock. No outbranching trees made a cool restful shade; no spring upbursting with a song of gladness came to relieve the thirst; no flowers bloomed, pleasing the eye with colour, and the nostril with fragrance; all was drear desert. Two things may be here noted — the desolation, and the solitude. The desolation must have deepened the shadows on His spirit, increased the burden that made Him almost faint at the opening of His way. And He was in solitude — alone there, without the comfort of a human presence, the fellowship of a kindred soul. Yet the loneliness was a sublime necessity. In His supreme moments society was impossible to Him. Out of loneliness He issued to begin His work; into loneliness tie passed to end it. The moments that made His work Divinest were His own and His Father's.

III. BUT MUCH MORE SIGNIFICANT THAN THE SCENE OF THE TEMPTATION IS THE PLACE WHERE IT STANDS IN THE HISTORY OF THE LIFE AND MIND OF JESUS. Just after the baptism and before the ministry; just after the long silence and before the brief yet eternal speech; just after the years of privacy, and before the few but glorious months of publicity. We must study the temptation through the consciousness of Jesus. The temptation and the assumption by Jesus of the Messianic character and office are essentially relented. The one supplies the other with the condition and occasion of its existence. When He was driven into the wilderness three points must have stood out from the tumult of thought and feeling pre-eminent.

1. The relation of the supernatural to the natural in Himself; or, on the other side, His relation to God as His ideal human Son.

2. The relation of God to the supernatural in His person, and the official in His mission; and

3. The nature of the kingdom He had come to found, and the agencies by which it was to live and extend. And these precisely were the issues that emerged in His several temptations. They thus stood rooted in the then consciousness of Christ, and related in the most essential way to His spirit.

(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)

You may expect me to begin with warning you not to think of the temptation as Dante and the men in the Middle Ages thought of it, or as Luther and the men at the time of the Reformation thought of it, or as Milton and the Puritans thought of it. I shall do no such thing. I believe they all thought of it imperfectly; that they impaired the beauty of the clear, sharply-chiselled marble, by colouring born from their own fancy and the fancy of their times. But they have shown with what intense reality this record has come to them in the most terrible moments of their existence. If they have seen it through a mist, it has not created the mist; it has done more than all other lights to dispel the mist. We may learn something from each teacher which the other could not tell us. Their mistakes may warn us of those into which we are likely to fall. If God gives us grace to enter heart and hand into the conflict which He has appointed for us and our time, we shall read this passage of St. Luke more simply than those read it who have gone before us.

1. He was led by the SPIRIT. That is the characteristic of the acts of the Son in all we read from this time onwards. He has been baptized with His Father's Spirit. He is guided by that Spirit whithersoever He goes. He does not choose for Himself whether He shall be in the city or the wilderness. Here is the secret of His power.

2. The wilderness into which He went, says Renan ["Life of Jesus "], "was HAUNTED, ACCORDING TO POPULAR BELIEF, BY DEMONS." We surely do not want the authority of a learned man to endorse so very probable a statement. No doubt popular belief filled Jewish deserts, as it fills all deserts, with demons. The curious fact is, that this being the case, the evangelists, who are supposed to have been the victims of all popular beliefs, do not suggest the thought of demons in this desert. They say much of demons elsewhere. That which they speak of here is far more serious and awful.

3. Being forty days tempted of THE DEVIL. The difference is all-important. We are not in the region of dark forms which haunt particular spots. We have been brought into the spiritual region.

4. "IN THOSE DAYS HE DID EAT NOTHING," &c.Another exhaustion of outward circumstances. Hunger may be the tempter's instrument quite as much as food. Is there no gospel in the announcement that the anguish of hungry men has been felt by the Son of Man — the King of Men?

5. "And the devil said unto Him, IF THOU BE THE SON OF GOD," &c. Now we begin to perceive the principle of the temptation, its real force. A stone may serve as the instrument of solicitation; the natural craving for food may be all that is spoken to; but this is the speech: "If Thou be the Son of God." "The words at Thy baptism cannot be true, if Thou art not able to exercise this power for the relief of Thy own necessities." He must do something of Himself and for Himself. What is His name worth otherwise?

6. His name is worth this: "IT IS WRITTEN, MAN SHALL NOT LIVE BY BREAD ALONE," &c., i.e., "I claim the words because they are written of man." He can depend upon the Word of God.

7. A KING IDEALLY PERHAPS. But actually is the world His? Is it His Father's? "And the devil taketh Him up into an high mountain," &c. How was He taken to the mountain? Did He see with His eyes or only with His mind? I know these questions occur to us all. They have occurred to me. And I can only find this answer to them: I am reading of a temptation presented by a spirit to a spirit. If Christ saw all those kingdoms 'with His bodily eye, still it must have been his spirit which took in the prospect. The devil is reported to have said something which seems most plausible. All appearances in that time confirmed his words. The most religious men in times since have thought that he spoke truly. They have said that the kingdoms of this world and all the glory of them are his. I want to know if there is One whom I can trust who declared that they were not his, who would not do him service. I read these word:

8. "GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN," &c. Did One in human flesh indeed say, "Adversary, get thee behind Me. All these things are the Creator's, not thine." Then is not this a gospel to us all?

9. "AND HE BROUGHT HIM TO JERUSALEM, AND SET HIM ON A PINNACLE OF THE TEMPLE," &c. I need not discuss the question how He was brought to Jerusalem, how He was set on a pinnacle of the temple. I should say the temptation was the most real that could be. He was actually tempted to try whether God would bear Him up, if He cast Himself down. He was actually tempted by a text of Scripture to give that proof of His Sonship and of His Father's faithfulness. Whatever were His circumstances, that thought was presented to His spirit by the evil spirit. And so we know that He was tempted like as we are. Every man hears, at some time or other, a voice whispering to him, "Go out of the place in which you are put. Do something extraordinary. Do something wrong. See whether God will not help you. Can you not depend upon His promise that He will?" Is Scripture false? I accept this story. I believe that voice is the voice of the tempter. And therefore I want to know if the argument from Scripture has been answered, and how we may treat that and like arguments.

10. Hear and consider this: "AND JESUS ANSWERING, SAID, THOU SHALT NOT TEMPT THE LORD THY GOD." The Son of God once more claims the right to obey a commandment — the right to trust and to depend. Once more He claims that right for us. We may abide where we are placed, for our Father has placed us there. If He were not the Lord our God we might make experiments on that which He would do for us supposing we broke His law. Because He is we may submit to it and rejoice in it.

11. We are told that "THE DEVIL DEPARTED FROM HIM FOR A SEASON." Such seasons of rest, of freedom from doubt, of joyful confidence, are, I suppose, vouchsafed to the soldiers of Christ after periods of terrible conflict, as they were to the chief Captain. But the inward battle was to prepare Him, as well as them, for battles in the world. The enemy in the wilderness must be encountered there.

(F. D. Maurice, M. A.)

If we would understand this narrative, and profit by it, we must accept it as the record of a spiritual conflict of the most intense severity. The baptism, with its accompanying sign, brings Jesus for the first time under the full burden of His life's work, as the Messiah. This is the key to the temptation. The question is, How did Jesus Himself understand His Messiahship at the time of the temptation and afterwards? Evidently, in His view, it involved these two things at least — Power, and suffering. Here, in the wilderness, there is opened out to Him, for the first time, in full perspective, the thorny path of suffering, closed by the ignominious death of the cross; and, along with this, the consciousness of power infinitely vaster than was ever wielded by mortal man either before Him or since. The ideal of Messiahship is set before Him; will He shrink from it, or will He embrace it? Will He try to pare it down to something easier and less exacting, or will He accept and embrace it in all its rugged severity; never employing the superhuman power which is involved in it, to smooth His path, to mitigate a single pang, or to diminish by one atom the load of suffering imposed upon Him? Yes; the ideal of Messiahship, the perfect pattern of Messiahship, how to realize it? how to embody it in noble action, and yet more noble suffering? — that is the question of the wilderness; that is the key to the temptation; that has to be debated and resolved upon there, and then pursued, firmly and fixedly, in spite of all the tempter's assaults, until He can say upon the cross," It is finished"; "Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit."

(D. J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Temptation does not cease as we rise in She scale of moral elevation. Even Jesus, the highest, the holiest, the Messiah, was tempted; as truly as the vilest drunkard or profligate amongst ourselves is tempted, though in a very different way. Temptation never ceases, but it alters its form. As we rise in the moral scale by victory over it, it rises also, becomes more refined, takes a subtler and (if we may say so)a nobler form; so that to know what a man's temptations are, is to know what the man himself is. We may be known by our wishes, our hopes, our fears; and we may be known also by our temptations. To fall short of the ideal of the Messiahship was the Messiah's temptation. It was sin in its most refined and subtle form of shortcoming, failure, missing the mark. With Him it was no question of transgression; He was far above that; it was missing the ideal, nothing more, nothing worse, a mere trifle, we might think; yet to Jesus Himself this to us seeming trifle was agony. And is there not an ideal for every one of us? Is it not in us to be something, which we are not yet; to fill our place in the world, however small it be, in a higher, better, nobler way than we have yet learned to fill it?

(D. J. Vaughan, M. A. .)

Homiletic Magazine.
I. THE HOLIEST NATURES ARE NOT EXEMPT FROM TEMPTATION.

II. TIMES OF GLADNESS AND SPIRITUAL ELEVATION MAY BE FOLLOWED IMMEDIATELY BY SEASONS OF CONFLICT AND TRIAL.

III. OUR RELATION TO GOD DOES NOT DEPEND UPON THE CHANGES OF OUR SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCES.

IV. SOLITUDE IS NO SAFEGUARD AGAINST TEMPTATION.

(Homiletic Magazine.)

I. The first reflection which this great fact excites in my mind is, that I HAVE A SAVIOUR WHOSE LIFE IS SOUND TO MINE BY SYMPATHY IN TEMPTATION, as well as in sorrow, and all the kind affections of the heart. Even His holiness did not escape trial. It attained its perfection through trial. The path of human virtue must always lie through many temptations; and even then it is not left without its great Exemplar and Guide. In the desert I have a Companion, and it is my Master. His example could not instruct me how to overcome temptation, unless He also had struggled with it; for the conquest necessarily supposes the struggle. There is no victory without warfare.

II. I am next led to inquire BY WHAT MEANS OUR SAVIOUR TRIUMPHED OVER HIS TEMPTATION, that so I may learn how to triumph also, in the evil time, over the evil one. I find that He triumphed by the power of religious principle, by the force of piety, by bringing the most holy of all holy thoughts, that of obedience to God, in direct opposition to every solicitation of sense, and every suggestion of self-interest. On every side from which He was assailed, this was His ready and sure defence. Then temptation took another shape. Jesus was placed on a pinnacle of the temple, and was urged to cast Himself down, on the specious plea, perverted from Scripture, that God would send angelic aid to His own Son, to prevent His suffering any harm. Thy duty is obedience, and not display. The trials which God appoints, He will give thee His aid to bear, and His grace will be sufficient for thee; but how canst thou look for His aid in trials which thou hast rashly invited, and the issue of which thou hast dared, not for His glory but for thine own? One earnest, trusting, patient thought of God, would have saved many s man from destruction, who once thought himself quite safe, and was thought so, too, by the world, and yet, in the encounter with temptation, has miserably perished. Why was he not safe? Because he placed his safety in himself, and not in God, and only discovered his mistake when it was too late — perhaps not even then, but went down to ruin darkly. Why does not the thought of God come in the straits of temptation? Because it is not a familiar thought; because we do not make God our friend, and admit Him into the daily counsels of our bosom.

(F. W. P. Greenwood.)

From the Jordan of glorification to the wilderness of temptation. This is the way of God; as with Christ, so with the Christian; and moreover —

1. An old, and yet an ever new way.

2. A hard, and yet a good way.

3. A dark, and yet a light way.

4. A lonesome, and yet a blessed way.

(J. J. Van Oosterzee, D. D.)

For, as commentators on Aristotle observe that his rule many times lies hid and is wrapped up in the example which he gives, so we need scarce any other rules for behaviour when we are tempted, than those which we may find in this story of our Saviour's combat with our enemy. And our Saviour may seem to bespeak His brethren, even all Christians, as Abimelech doth his soldiers: "What you have seen me do, make haste, and do likewise" (Judges 9:48).

(A. Farindon, D. D,)

"Take away this combat with our spiritual enemy, and virtue is but a bare naked name, is nothing." If there were no possibility of being evil, we could not be good. What were my faith, if there were no doubt to assault it? What were my hope, if there were no scruple to stagger it? What were my charity, if there were no injuries to dull it? Then goodness is fairest when it shines through a cloud; and it is difficulty which sets the crown upon virtue's head. Our Saviour was made glorious by His temptations and sufferings; so must we [be] by ours.

(A. Farindon, D. D.)

The first thing that strikes us here is that Jesus was not master of His own movements. An unerring voice, which He knew to be from heaven, sent Him into the lonely wilderness — the place where no society or communion could disturb the law of development of t/is character — in order to be tempted in that solitude. He could not have gone thither Himself, aware of the trial before Him, without tempting God. The next thing which arrests our attention and, at first, our wonder, is that He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. What a fearful and solemn glimpse is here given to us of the moral agencies of the universe. Good and evil, infinite good and absolute evil, good and evil in personal substance, with that intense antipathy to one another that souls of the largest grasp and depth must feel, are in restless action around a human soul. And if such parties were concerned in the temptation something of importance must have depended on the result. But in what form, it may be asked, did this tempter place himself in the way of Jesus? Did he keep to his spiritual incorporeal nature, or take a body, and become visible to eyes of flesh? Was the temptation transacted before the mind of Christ, or was its sphere more outward, concerned with bodily phenomena and human language? In the first place, the agency of Satan elsewhere, in the New Testament, is that of a spiritual being, and, so far as I am aware, corporeal form is never ascribed to him. In the second place, suppose the Saviour to be carried to an exceeding high mountain, yet the spherical form of the earth would allow the eye to take in but a very minute portion of the kingdoms of the world and of their glory. We must, then, either dilute the narrative, as many do, by understanding these expressions in a hyperbolical sense of the little tract of country around Palestine, or must resort to a second miracle, in order to conceive of the broad earth spread outward and upward before our Lord's eye. What need, then, of the high mountain, and why might not the same sight be obtained without leaving the wilderness? In the third place, it is noteworthy that the narrative makes no mention of the return of Jesus from the temple and from the mountain, just as if, in some sense, He had gone there while He remained in the desert in another. And, in the fourth place, if the temptation was addressed to the bodily senses of the Lord, it loses its insidious character, and becomes easier to be resisted. I am constrained, therefore, to believe that the transaction was a spiritual one, a conflict between light and darkness in the region of the mind, in which a real tempter assailed Christ, not through His eyes and ears, but directly through His feelings, and imagination. After the same manner, the prophets of the Old Testament passed through events in vision, of which they speak as we should speak of realities. Thus Jeremiah must have been in prophetic vision when he took the linen girdle to Euphrates to hide it there and went again in quest of it, as also when he took the cup of wrath from God's hand and gave it to the nations to drink. So, too, Ezekiel was transported from Chaldea to Jerusalem in that remarkable vision, the narrative of which occupies the chapters of his prophecies from the eighth to the eleventh. Hoses, again, it is commonly believed, narrates only a symbolical vision, where he speaks of himself as marrying an adulteress at the command of God. The martyr Stephen, also full of the Holy Ghost, saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God, not in bodily shape, but in a form presented to the mind's eye, and yet expressive of a great reality. If, now, the Scriptures allow us to interpret the events of the temptation in this way, we can see that greater strength is thereby given to the suggestions of Satan than if they had been addressed to the bodily organs. The power over the mind of a highly endowed being through the imagination, may indefinitely exceed that which is exerted through the sight. Multitudes have been seduced by that faculty, which paints absent or distant objects in colours of its own, whom no beauty or pleasantness lying in objects of sight could have led into sin. The world of imagination is more fascinating to their elevated mind than this outward world with all its shows and riches. The phantom, which has something heavenly in it, cheats and betrays them, while they turn aside from the obvious snares of visible things. But we pass on from this point, to a more important and indeed to an essential remark, that the temptations were intended not for Jesus in His nature as a man, but for Jesus in His official station as the Messiah. God was not putting it to the test, whether a certain good man or good prophet would yield to evil or conquer it, but whether Jesus was qualified for His office — whether He would remain true to the spiritual idea of the Messiah, or would fall below it under temptation. Nor was the tempter in this case anxious simply to lead a good man into sin, but he was striking at the root of salvation; his aim was to undermine the principles of the kingdom of heaven. This thought is the key to the story of the temptation. It explains why the temptation occurred when it did, at the commencement of Christ's public work, and shows the greatness of the crisis. The question whether Jesus would be made to adopt the worldly idea of the Messiah's kingdom was one of life and death for mankind. And again, had Christ followed the suggestions of the tempter, He could not have taken on Him the work of our salvation. The form of a servant, which He freely assumed, involved subjection to all the physical laws which control our race, and the endurance of all sufferings which the Father should lay upon Him. But if, by His inherent power, He had now relieved His own hunger, He would have escaped from the form of a servant, and even from subjection to the Divine will; and, on the same principle, He never could have been obedient to death — even the death of the cross. But to the sophistry of the tempter Christ had a ready reply. "It is written, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God," that is, "I may not, because entitled to His protection, appeal to it against the laws of His providence, to rescue me from dangers into which I have entered unbidden." As thus viewed, our Lord's reply is given in the same spirit with His former one during the first temptation. He subjected Himself freely to physical law, and His Messiahship depended on His self-chosen humiliation. His choice of means, however, for securing His kingdom would in the end amount to a choice between two kingdoms, the one, severely spiritual, introduced by moral and religious forces only, the other becoming worldly by its alliance with the world of outward influence and temporal glory. The instinctive shrinking from harm and difficulty, which belongs to us all, would lead Him to choose the worldly way of doing good, would prejudice His mind in favour of the easier and quicker method. But He held on to His spiritual conception of His office, kept His obedience, and triumphed. Satan approached Christ in the belief that He was capable of taking false views of His office, through which He might be led into sin. Another remark which we desire to make is, that the narrative, as interpreted, shows the subtlety and insinuating character of the temptation. The acts to which Christ was solicited were not sins, so much as misjudgments in regard to the means to be used for gaining the highest and noblest ends. And these misjudgments would consist, not in the use of means plainly and boldly sinful, but of such as involved a departure from the true idea of the Messiah's earthly mission. But it is more important to remark, that the narrative is too refined and too full of a somewhat hidden, but consummate wisdom, to grow out of the imaginings of the early Church. It is no rude picture of assaults which might befall a holy man in solitude, but an intellectual and moral struggle, which put it to the proof whether Christ would be true to the spiritual idea of the Messiah. It involves a conception of the Messiah's kingdom which the early Church did not entertain until some time after the death of our Lord; how then could it be elaborated by crude Galilean disciples of Christ, whose views were full of that earthly mixture which the narrative condemns?

(T. D. Woolsey, D. D.)

For as He hath taught us both by His word and ensample to prepare ourselves to the battle, and bestir ourselves like those who fight under His colours; so, in the next place, there is a kind of influence and virtue derived from His combat, which falls as oil upon us, to supple our joints, and strengthen our sinews, and make each faculty of our souls active and cheerful in this exercise.

(A. Farindon, D. D.)

Full of the Holy Ghost.
It was in the prospect of His temptation that the Lord Jesus received this fulness of the Holy Spirit. This presents a new aspect of the bestowment of the Spirit. He was not only filled with the Holy Ghost, but it was in the very crisis of need He was so anointed. The back will be strengthened for the load, the heart nerved for the blow. I fear we all deplorably fail to realize this, and so impoverish ourselves of the Spirit. It was upon the Lord Jesus being thus filled with the Holy Spirit that He was tempted. "Comfort ye, comfort ye," my fellow-believers, from that. It is when a child of God is fullest of grace; when he has been declared to be a "son," even a "beloved son" of God; when he has made a public profession of Christianity, that he is most of all exposed to temptation.

(A. B. Grosart, D. D.)

Returned from Jordan.
The temptation of the Lord having followed His baptism, tells us not to trust to baptism for escape from temptation.

(A. B. Grosart, D. D.)

That our entering upon a special service for God or receiving a special favour from God, are two solemn seasons which Satan makes use of for temptation. Though this may seem strange, yet the harshness of such a providence on God's part, and the boldness of the attempt on Satan's part, may be much taken off by the consideration of the reasons hereof.

1. On Satan's part. It is no great wonder to see such an undertaking, when we consider his fury and malice. The more we receive from God, and the more we are to do for Him, the more doth he malign us. So much the more as God is good, by so much is his eye evil.

2. There are in such cases as these several advantages, which, through our weakness and imperfection, we are too apt to give him; and for these he lieth at the catch.(1) Security. We are apt to grow proud, careless, and confident, after or upon such employments and favours; even as men are apt to sleep or surfeit upon a full meal, or to forget themselves when they are advanced to honour. Enjoyments beget confidence; confidence brings forth carelessness; carelessness makes God withdraw, and gives opportunity to Satan to work unseen. And thus, as armies after victory, growing secure, are oft surprised; so are we oft after our spiritual advancements thrown down.(2) Discouragement and tergiversation is another thing the devil watcheth for. By his assaults he represents the duty difficult, tedious, dangerous, or impossible, on purpose to discourage us, and to make us fall back.(3) The fall or miscarriage of the saints at such times is of more than ordinary disadvantage, not only to others — for if they can be prevailed with to lay aside their work, or to neglect the improvement of their favours, others are deprived of the benefit and help that might be expected from them — but also to themselves. A prevailing temptation doth more than ordinarily prejudice them at such times.

3. As we have seen the reason of Satan's keenness in taking those opportunities, so may we consider the reasons of God's permission, which are these: —(1) Temptations at such seasons are permitted for more eminent trial of the upright.(2) For an increase of diligence, humility, and watchfulness.(3) For a plentiful furniture of experience. Temptation is the shop of experience.

(R. Gilpin.)

After high favours showed to God's children, come shrewd pinches, as after warm, growing, comfortable weather in the spring come many cold pinching frosts: what a sudden change is this I Is this He, of whom erewhile the Lord said, "This is My Son," and doth He now send, and set his slave upon Him to vex and bait Him?

(D. Dyke.)

The history of our Lord's temptation ought never to be contemplated apart from that of His baptism. We shall miss much of its significance, if we dissociate it, even in thought, from the solemn recognition of the Son by the Father, the salutation of Him from heaven, and the full consciousness of His Divine nature into which He was thus brought. The Church of old did not shrink from calling her Lord's baptism His second nativity. In that baptism He received His heavenly armour, and now He goes forth to prove it, and try of what temper it is. Having been baptized with water and the Holy Ghost, He shall now be baptized with the fire of temptation; even as there is another baptism, the baptism of blood, in store for Him: for the gifts of God are not for the Captain of our salvation, any more than for His followers, the pledge of exemption from a conflict, but rather powers with which He is furnished, and, as it were, inaugurated thereunto. With regard to the temptation: it is quite impossible to exaggerate the importance of the victory then gained by the second Adam, or the bearing which it had, and still has, on the work of our redemption. The entire history, moral and spiritual, of the world revolves around two persons, Adam and Christ. To Adam was given a position to maintain; he did not maintain it, and the lot of the world for ages was decided. All is again" at issue. Again we are represented by a Champion, by One who is in the place of all, whose standing shall be the standing of many, and whose fall, if that fall had been conceivable, would have been the fall of many, yea of all. Once already Satan had thought to nip the kingdom of heaven in the bud, and had nearly succeeded. If it had not been for a new and unlooked-for interposition of God, for the promise of the Seed of the woman, he would have done it. He will now prove if he cannot more effectually crush it, and for ever; for, should Christ fail, there was none behind, the last stake would have been played — and lost.

(Archbishop Trench.)

Then, when He was washed, did the devil attempt to soil Him.

(A. Farindon, D. D.)

His malice is so great that he is never at rest. He watcheth every good thing in its bud, to nip it; in its blossom, to blast it; in its fruit, to spoil it.

(A. Farindon, D. D.)

What we are surely possessed of, we can hardly lose. And such a possession, such an inheritance, is true piety, when we are once rooted and built up, and established in it. It is a treasure which no chance can rob us of, no thief take from us. A habit well confirmed is an object the devil is afraid of. Oh, the power of an uninterrupted obedience, of a continued course in the duties of holiness! It is able to puzzle the great sophister, the great god of this world.

(A. Farindon, D. D.)

Was led by the Spirit.
We are to consider the leader. He was led by the Spirit.

1. That the state of a man regenerate by baptism is not a standing still. We must not only have a mortifying and reviving, but a quickening and stirring spirit (1 Corinthians 15:45).

2. As there must be a stirring, so this stirring must not be such, as when a man is left to his own voluntary or natural motion; we must go according as we are led. For having given ourselves to God, we are no longer to be at our own disposition or direction.

(Bishop Andrewes.)

The Children of Israel made no scruple to pitch their tents within the borders of their enemies if the pillar of cloud did remove before them; so wheresoever the grace of God doth carry a man, God's glory being his undoubted end (without all vain delusions, and carnal reservations) he may be bold to venture.

(Bishop Hacket.)

Have you seen little children dare one another which should go deepest into the mire? But he is more childish that ventures further and further, even to the brim of transgression, and bids the devil catch him if he can. I will but look and like, says the wanton, where the object pleaseth me; I keep company with some licentious persons, says an easy nature, but for no hurt, because I would not offend our friendship. I will but bend my body in the house of Rimmon, when my master bends his, says Naaman; I will but peep in to see the fashion of the mass, holding fast the former profession of my faith. Beloved, I do not like it when a man's conscience takes in these small leaks; it is odds you will fill faster and faster, and sink to the bottom of iniquity.

(Bishop Hacket.)

The grounds upon which I will insist are these.

1. We must be led by the Spirit before we can work anything which is good.

2. I will unfold how we are led by initiating or preventing grace, when we arc first made partakers to taste of the hopes of a better life.

3. I will show how we are led by preparatory grace, which goes before the complete act of our regeneration.

4. With what great and mighty power the Spirit doth lead us in converting grace.

5. How we are led by subsequent grace and sanctification, which co-operates and assists us after our conversion.

(Bishop Hacket.)

In that the evangelists do not say that Christ cast Himself upon a temptation, neither did go to undertake it till He was led to it, we note, that whatever may be the advantage of a temptation by the Spirit's ordering of it, or what security from danger we may promise to ourselves upon that account, yet must we not run upon temptations; though we must submit when we are fairly led into them. The reasons of this truth are these: —

1. There is so much of the nature of evil in temptations that they are to be avoided if possible.

2. To run upon them would be a dangerous tempting of God; that is, making a bold and presumptuous trial, without call, whether He will put forth His power to rescue us or not. When do men run uncalled and unwarrantably upon temptation?(1) When men engage themselves in sin and apparent wickedness, in the works of the flesh. For it can never be imagined that the holy God should ever by His Spirit call any to such things as His soul abhors.(2) When men run upon the visible and apparent occasions and causes of sin. This is like a man's going to the pest-house.(3) When men unnecessarily, without the conduct either of command or urging an unavoidable providence, do put themselves, though not upon visible and certain opportunities, yet upon dangerous and hazardous occasions and snares.(4) Those run upon temptation, that adventure apparently beyond their strength, and put themselves upon actions good or harmless, disproportionably to their abilities.(5) They are also guilty that design an adventure unto the utmost bounds of lawful liberty.(6) Those also may be reckoned in the number of such as rush upon their danger, who go abroad without their weapons, and forget in the midst of daily dangers the means of preservation.

(R. Gilpin.)

The devil was the instrument of the temptation, but God ordained it.

(G. S. Barrett.)

It was the last act of His moral education; it gave Him an insight into all the ways in which His Messianic work could possibly be marred. If, from the very first step in His arduous career, Jesus kept the path marked out for Him by God's will without deviation, change, or hesitancy, this bold front and steadfast perseverance are certainly due to His experience of the temptation. All the wrong courses possible to Him were thenceforth known; all the rocks had been observed; and it was the enemy himself who had rendered Him this service. It was for this reason that God apparently delivered Him for a brief time into his power. This is just what Matthew's narrative expresses so forcibly: " He was led up by the Spirit to be tempted." When He left this school, Jesus distinctly understood that, as respects His person, no act of His ministry was to have any tendency to lift it out of His human condition; that, as to His work, it was to be in no way assimilated to the action of the powers of this world; and that, in the employment of Divine power, filial liberty was never to become caprice, not even under a pretext of blind trust in the help of God. And this programme was carried out. His material wants were supplied by the gifts of charity (Luke 8:3), not by miracles; His mode of life was nothing else than a perpetual humiliation — a prolongation, so to speak, of His Incarnation. When labouring to establish His kingdom, He unhesitatingly refused the aid of human power — as, e.g., when the multitude wished to make Him a King (John 6:15); and His ministry assumed the character of an exclusively spiritual conquest, tie abstained, lastly, from every miracle which had not for its immediate design the revelation of moral perfection, that is to say, of the glory of His Father (Luke 11:29). These supreme rules of the Messianic activity were all learned in that school of trial through which God caused Him to pass in the desert.

(F. Godet,D. D.)

Into the wilderness.
As a deer that is struck knows by instinct what a danger it is to be single, and therefore will herd himself if he can; so do not separate yourself from the face of men upon temptation, that is the way to betray your soul, but unite your force against the tempter by mixing yourself with good men.

(Bishop Hacket.)

But I reduce all to this head. The solitude of the wilderness did best befit Him in this work, because He began, continued, and ended the work of the Mediatorship by Himself, and by no other assistance.

(Bishop Hacket.)

Much better it is to be humble with Christ in a barren desert, than to be proud with Adam in a delicious paradise.

(Bishop Hacket.)

God hath made man a sociable creature, if the contagion of the world doth not make him unsociable.

(Bishop Hacket.)

Solitude affords a great advantage to Satan in the matter of temptation. This advantage ariseth from solitude two ways:

1. First, As it doth deprive us of help. They can mutually help one another when they fall; they can mutually heat and warm one another; they can also strengthen one another's hands to prevail against an adversary.

2. Secondly, Solitude increaseth melancholy, fills the soul with dismal apprehensions; and withal doth so spoil and alter the temper of it that it is not only ready to take any disadvantageous impression, but it doth also dispose it to leaven and sour those very considerations that should support, and to put a bad construction on things that never were intended for its hurt.

(R. Gilpin.)

Here we have an image of the conflicts betwixt Ishmael and Amalek, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. God, to gain the greater glory to Himself, gives all the advantages that may be to the enemies of His Church. How unequal was the combat and contention betwixt Luther a poor monk, and the Pope, and so many legions of his creatures? They had the sword of most magistrates to sway at their pleasure, great power, and great authority, yet Luther took the prey out of their teeth, as poor David overthrew the great Goliath.

(D. Dyke.)

What a contrast between that gracious, noble Form and the scene in which it is set! The Bible delights in contrasts. On Calvary, e.g., it shows us the cross, and One hanging on it, the very incarnation of beauty and patient love and gentleness — the perfect Man, the perfect God — and there all around Him surge the angry crowds full of hale and wickedness and every corruption. So here we behold that same Holy Being standing in the midst of the picture of desolation — oh, how desolate that desert even in the light of the noonday! — how much more desolate at night, when the imagination filled it with its own fears and mysteries and terrors! But more horrid than the darkness, more terrible than wild beasts, than any earthly terror, is the dark presence of Satan. There they stand alone together, the Son of God and the spirit of evil; and we know that they are to be the figures in some great transaction. What was the mighty event? It was the greatest event that has ever occurred on earth except the Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of our Lord. It was to be the greatest battle ever fought on the earth — the battle between Satan, the personification of hate and vileness and all that is repulsive, and the incarnation of purity and holiness.

(F. C. Ewer, D. D.)

It has been said that Christ by His example sanctioned the eremitical life, the retirement into the deserts of the old hermits, to spend their lives in contemplation. To some extent only is this true. Christ sanctioned retirement, but He made retirement from the world preparatory to active mission work in the world. Where the old hermits misread His teaching was in this, that they retired to the deserts and did not leave the deserts again — they made that a cul-de-sac which should have been a passage. The example of our Lord seems to us in this age of high pressure to be of special importance. We look too much to the amount of work done, rather than to the quality of the work. This is the case in every branch of life, in every industry, in every profession; and it cannot be denied that in the present day the hurry of life is so great that men have not the patience to study and to appreciate good work; so long as it has a specious appearance of being good, it is sufficient. But in spiritual work, we must consider that the eye of God is on us, and that we are labouring for Him, not for men, and, by His retirement for prayer and fasting into the solitude of the desert, Christ puts into our hands the key to the door of all thorough and efficacious work in the spiritual sphere, — it must be well considered, well prayed over, and well prepared for. Every plant has its hidden life that precedes its visible and manifested life; the seed, or bulb, or tuber spends a time in accumulating to itself vital force or energy, during which period it appears to be dormant. Then, when it has taken the requisite time, it begins to grow, it throws up its leaves and flowers. The leaves and flowers are no spontaneous development out of the root, they have been long prepared for in the hidden life and apparent sleep of the seed or root underground. All life is initiated by a hidden period of incubation. And all healthy human activity has also its still unperceived phase of existence. Christ shows us that it is the same in the spiritual life. The forty days and nights — I may say the whole of the hidden life at Nazareth — was the seed germinating, and the three years' ministry was the manifestation of the life.

(S. Baring-Gould, M. A.)

The scene of the temptation was the wilderness. What wilderness we are not told; and all which it imports us to note is that it was a wilderness, in which this encounter of the good and the evil, each in its highest representative, took place. There could have been no fitter scene, none indeed so fit. The waste and desert places of the earth are, so to speak, the characters which sin has visibly impressed on the outward creation; its signs and its symbols there; the echoes in the outward world of the desolation and wasteness which sin has wrought in the inner life of man. Out of a true feeling of this, men have ever conceived of the wilderness as the haunt of evil spirits. In the old Persian religion, Ahriman and his evil spirits inhabit the steppes and wastes of Turan, to the north of the happy Iran, which stands under the dominion of Ormuzd; exactly as with the Egyptians, the evil Typhon is the lord of the Libyan sand-wastes, and Osiris of the fertile Egypt. This sense of the wilderness as the haunt of evil spirits, one which the Scripture more or less allows (Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14; Matthew 12:43; Revelation 18:2), would of itself give a certain fitness to that as the place of the Lord's encounter with Satan; but only in its antagonism to paradise do we recognize a still higher fitness in the appointment of the place. The garden and the desert are the two most opposite poles of natural life; in them we have the highest harmonies and the deepest discords of nature. Adam, when worsted in the conflict, was expelled from the garden, and the ground became cursed for his sake. Its desert places represent to us what the whole of it might justly have been on account of sin. Christ takes up the conflict exactly where Adam left it, and, inheriting all the consequences of his defeat, in the desert does battle with the foe; and, conquering him there, wins back the garden for that whole race, whose champion and representative He was.(Archbishop Trench.)

"The earth a wilderness!" you will say. "Oh, but it is full of scenes of beauty; has it not its running streams, and flowery leas, and wooded slopes, and leaning lawns? How glorious its sunsets! How fair its gardens, all filled with fragrant flowers!" Yes, the earth has its beauties, but they are not the true, the essential beauties. Go you to Quarantania: there you shall find also a certain beauty — the beauty of wild sublimity — the mountain peak, the trenchant rock, the dark ravine with its rugged sides; yet it is a howling wilderness. Quarantania has a certain beauty, and so has earth. But compare the desert, stern, barren, desolate, with the fair gardens of Italy, and great as is the gulf between these, it is not so vast as the gulf between this world that we call so fair and the Golden Jerusalem, of which we are citizens. All that is most bright and glorious here is dull and harsh and pale compared with what God is keeping for us there. Is not the earth filled with mountains of disappointments? with snares, sufferings, griefs, ingratitudes? Oh! the wilderness of this world. What a contrast with the paradise of God!

(F. G. Ewer, D. D.)

We make a mistake when we think that those forty days were all days of temptation and sorrow. They must have been, on the contrary, days, at first, of peaceful rest, of intense joy. Alone with God, driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, the Saviour dwelt in the peaceful thought of His union with His Father. The words spoken at the baptism, the fulness of the Spirit's power within Him had filled His human heart with serene ecstasy. He went into the wilderness to realize it all more fully. It was then in this spiritual rest and joy that we may reverently conceive the beginning of the wilderness life was passed. As such, it was the first pure poetry of the perfect union which was to arise between the heart of man and the Spirit of God; the springtime of the new life; the first clear music which ever flowed from the harmony of a human spirit with the life of the universe. But now we meet the question, "How did this become test, temptation?" To understand this we must recall the two grand ideas in His mind:

1. That He was at one with the Father — that gave Him His perfect joy.

2. That He was the destined Redeemer of the race. To the first peaceful days had now succeeded days when desire to begin His redemptive work filled His soul. And the voice in His own soul was echoed by the cry of the Jewish people for their Messiah. He was urged, then, by two calls, one within, and one without. But — and here is the point at which suffering and test entered — these two voices directly contradicted one another. As soon as Christ turned to the world with the greeting of His love, He heard coming from the world an answering greeting of welcome, but the ideas which lay beneath it were in radical opposition to His own. The vision of an omnipotent king and an external kingdom was presented to His Spirit as the ideal of the Jewish people. It came rudely into contact with the vision in His own heart of a king made perfect by suffering, of a kingdom hidden at first in the hearts of men. It is not difficult to see the depth and manifoldness of the tests which arose from the clashing of these two opposed conceptions.

(Stepford A. Brooke, M. A.)

No: we must be led into some secret and solitary place, there to fast and pray, to fit and prepare ourselves for the work which we have to do, there to taste how sweet the Word of God is, to ruminate and chaw upon it as it were and digest it, to fasten it to our very soul and make it a part of us, and by daily meditation so to profit that all the mysteries of faith and precepts of holiness may be, as vessels are in a well-ordered family, ready at hand to be used upon any occasion,

(A. Farindon, D. D.)

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